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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.67%
Worth A Look: 30%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 23.33%

2 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Fury (2014)
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by Jay Seaver

"Tanks & testosterone."
4 stars

David Ayer seems unlikely to make a romantic comedy any time soon; his films are testosterone baths packed with bloody action and male bonding, an unrepentant couple hours of traditional masculinity with just enough self-awareness that, even if that's not your thing, you can at least acknowledge it as a fair examination of manhood. And if it is your thing, "Fury" is a darn good war movie, no closer examination necessary.

It follows the crew of a Tiger I tank (with "Fury" written across the barrell of its cannon) during the final months of World War II. Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) has held the group together for much of the war, enough to come out of a slaughter almost intact - driver Trini "Gordo" Garcia (Michael Pena), gunner Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LaBeouf), and mechanic Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal). Their other driver dead, they have been assigned the extremely green Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a clerk with no training and no experience. Dispatched as part of a group meant to flush out Nazi defenses and hold a critical crossroads, Collier and his crew don't intend to let Norman's squeamishness hold them back.

Ayer has no intention of abstracting things from the very start; though a tank movie could easily be played like plane movies often are - war depicted as a clash of machines, rather mechanical even as you get to know their crews - we're introduced to Collier as he leaps out from cover and slits a mounted Nazi's throat. Then, of course, he frees the horse, for it is a noble beast that does not deserve to be sullied by any further association with the SS, a rugged moment of kindness. That will set the tone for much of the rest of the movie, as Ayer piles on reminders that war is a horrific thing, even if it is also something that must be fully embraced to be survived, with any more sentimental impulses taking the form of stoicism.

The embracing war part is often the easiest to see, as Ayer shoots some pretty fantastic action. Real tanks were pulled out of museums to shoot much of Fury, and there's what certainly feels like a commitment to authenticity throughout. The filmmakers balance the various sides to modern mechanized warfare near-perfectly: Action sequences often start with something terrifyingly blindsiding, and will often climax with a demonstration of how these weapons are powerful in a way that is completely out of proportion to the human beings that they are ultimately meant to kill, but in between, there's are thrilling moments as the people inside the tanks try and outfox each other, a real-time test of skills that is not just lining up and trying to blow each other away.

That occupies a lot of the movie, and the violence of it seeps into areas that are not action scenes - there's a lot of ugliness on display in a bit where the rest of the company insists Norman get his first kill. There are moments when it seems like Ayer is uncomfortable with anything else, and that's certainly one way to read the non-combat centerpiece of the movie, where Collier and Norman discover two German women in the town they've just taken. It happens slowly enough, and goes on long enough, that it would not be unfair to accuse it of dragging even with the nifty underlying tension to the scene. The hint is that there's a man like Norman underneath the parts of Collier that match with the uncouth crew, and the end of that sequence, when it's no longer just Collier, Norman, Irma (Anamaria Marinca), and Emma (Alicia von Rittberg), and the conflict between two very different flavors of manhood is on display.

Those are the scenes where the audience gets to really see Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman work without much distraction, although they both do a fine job throughout the film. Pitt manages to give Collier both a soldier's swagger and a veteran's wisdom, and a natural edge when he has to get nasty. Lerman is similarly good, hitting just the right spot where Norman is far out of his league but not problematically weak. Backing them up with Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, and Shia LaBeouf doesn't hurt at all; they each carve out simple characters that feel quite real. Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg, close to being the only women in the movie, make intriguing parallels to Pitt and Lerman while they're on-screen.

None of them are necessarily great characters, but seen as a war movie, that's partly the point: A group like this has to gel as a unit, and "Fury" shows the audience how things go on the edge case. It's an impressive piece of work in Ayer's chosen niche - all-out action with characters just interesting enough for it not to be hollow.

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originally posted: 10/22/14 04:28:50
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 London Film Festival For more in the 2014 London Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/22/19 Bobbo Brilliant writing and ensemble acting. All the ugliness and yes, necessity of war laid out. 5 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell good WW 2 MOVIE IGNORE THE HATE 4 stars
8/24/15 mr.mike Good ending and that's it 2 stars
8/24/15 Edler Nihilistic garbage;Point: US just as bad as Nazis. Disgraceful to servicemen. 1 stars
3/01/15 stanley welles it's long, boring and has stock characters in place of people 1 stars
12/16/14 Langano Nice. 4 stars
11/27/14 Tommy2Tone Like "Saving Private Ryan" on bran. 3 stars
11/10/14 The Big D Well said, Mr. Beeg--take note, Man Out Six Bucks! 1 stars
11/04/14 KingNeutron Dinner scene way too long, but Isaacs sounded like he was channeling Denis Leary 4 stars
11/03/14 Mr. Beeg Very offensive movie--portrays American soldiers as rapists. 1 stars
10/30/14 Man Out Six Bucks The Big D cried when his f├╝hrer died 3 stars
10/28/14 Slayer Pack of shit 1 stars
10/27/14 glzcarl totally fucking awesome movie. Grandslam. 5 stars
10/26/14 The Big D Liberal Democrat Pitt tries to show war is unhealthy for children and other living things. 1 stars
10/26/14 Terror Garbage compared to SPR. Pitt sucks 1 stars
10/20/14 Bob Dog 1st half = 4 stars / 2nd half = 2 stars 3 stars
10/18/14 action movie fan acting better than script movie is tiresome goes in cricles 2 stars
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  17-Oct-2014 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jan-2015

  22-Oct-2014 (15)

  DVD: 27-Jan-2015

Directed by
  David Ayer

Written by
  David Ayer

  Brad Pitt
  Shia LaBeouf
  Logan Lerman
  Michael Pena
  Jon Bernthal
  Jason Isaacs

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