8 Jul 2015

Fury, or how I felt when I watched this film

Brad Pitt stars in and produces this David Ayer movie about a tank crew in World War II. I was not going to write a review about this movie as I watched it ages ago on a flight to London. However now it has appeared in the DVD stores (my first instinct was to write video store) I feel I should.

Warning this review contains spoilers.


It is 1945, and Sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt) and his crew operate a Sherman tank in the final push to Berlin. Even though the Nazi's are losing the war, the allied tanks are still suffering terrible losses against the superior enemy tanks. After a recent battle Don lost a member of his crew who has been replaced by Norman (Logan Lerman), a young green soldier who was trained in administration. Don has to bring Norman up to speed to ensure the success of the mission and safety of his crew.

Fury feels like a cross between Saving Private Ryan  and Inglorious Bastards. But it can't quite reach the heroism of Ryan, or be as entertaining as Tarantino's Bastards. Instead, you have a group of characters who you have little sympathy for, with suspect and highly ludicrous motives.

Norman's first experience in combat is to (unsurprisingly) freak out. When he is ordered to shoot a lot of bodies, he panics and freezes. Determined to make a man out of Norman, Don forces Norman to murder an unarmed German prisoner of war. I imagine the scene was to add some 'grit' to film, or to show how even good men do bad things for the greater good, or maybe a visualisation of the "horrors of war". But it was just a pointless murder.

Next the crew enter a town which is controlled by child soldiers and their merciless SS masters. The inclusion of child murdering SS officer is a feeble distraction to the vile thugs inside the tank. Ayer hopes that by presenting the audience with a more horrible person that Wardaddy and his murderous and rapey crew will seem more heroic. They don't.

There is also a weird scene in a village where after the allies 'liberate' it from the SS, the US soldiers go on a bit of a rampage. Don decides to take Norman through another initiation  of manhood. He takes the young soldier into the home of a pair of young women. There he sets up house and has a shave. Then after some fear and awkwardness Don says to Norman, referring to a young German girl,  "If you don't take her into that bedroom, I will".  I suppose this is meant to be a scene where Don is seen to be civilised man and a father figure to Norman. And for killing a bunch of Germans as they entered the village, Norman now gets to have a girl as a reward. However no matter how the film portrays this scene, Brad Pitt's character is threatening to take the girl if Norman doesn't!  While the girl pulls Norman into the bedroom, does she really have a choice? To compound this the rest of the crew turn up angry that they were not invited to this party. One of the crew tells a weird rambling story about killing horses while the there is a palatable tension reminiscent of the rape scene in  Deliverence.  It is a horrible scene and highlightsthe characters vileness. 

Oddly the highlight of this field trip of nastiness is Shia Labeouf! Yes he is the solid moral compass of the group, and also gives a stand out performance. The best thing about Fury is his character. I think that says a great deal.  The other highlight is a tank battle between four US Sherman tanks, and one German Tiger tank. The scene was exciting and well shot. I am not sure that it was very accurate, but it was great action. 

The final scene is a battle between Don and his now broken tank and a large company of elite Nazi soldiers. It is ludicrous and tiresome. I remember reading Commando comics as a young boy which were based on more feasible outcomes. The elite Nazi forces, shown to be armed with specific anti tank weapons  decide to battle the immobile tank by  apparently packing away their anti tank weapons and then running in a column towards the main guns over and over again. It is only after most of the Nazi's are killed that the decide to take out the antitank weapons and use them ineffectively at a large stationary object. 

I found the movie to be stupid, cliched, ludicrous, but most of all horrible. It was just a tiresome piece of  theatre which failed on almost every level. 

Two Monkeys from me