Fury Movie Review
Let’s be clear: Fury is not the second coming of Saving Private Ryan. But there’s nothing wrong with that.
Intense, well acted and beautifully imagined, Fury is about the crew of a Sherman tank during the waning days of World War II. Not a particularly likable crew, but a crew nonetheless, men who have seen it all and know they could die at any given second.
Brad Pitt plays a just-slightly-less-psychotic version of his character from Inglorious Basterds—nicknamed “Wardaddy”—and Shia LaBeouf is the weird, Bible-quoting dude you find in every war movie. Percy Jackson… er, Logan Lerman… is the quintessential noob-who-has-never-shot-a-man-before, and Jon Bernthal plays a psychopath straight out of “The Walking Dead,” in which he starred for a number of seasons.
The cast all turn in great performances, though only Pitt feels developed enough to resemble a real human being. LaBeouf is sensational; too bad his character is an empty vessel.
David Ayer, the dude who made End of Watch and wrote Training Day (and co-wrote U-571, an intense, well acted thriller about the crew of a submarine during World War II), is the real star of the show, though. While his screenplay is lacking when it comes to character development—seriously, I didn’t really care about any of the characters enough to be emotionally nudged when they literally bite the bullet—the overall production is breathtaking.
Starting with an opening shot of a man on a white horse wandering through a hazy, scorched battlefield and closing with a slow pan of countless dead bodies, Ayer delivers what could be the best looking movie of the year. The action sequences are explosive and exciting—most notably a nail biter involving four American tanks against one superior Nazi tank—and Ayer heaps an extra level of grit, grime, sweat, blood and gore on top for extra impact.
Combined with an incredible score by Steven Price, Fury looks and feels unlike most war movies you’ve seen.
And yet, Fury is a better action movie than it is a war movie. While generally well written, the movie in many ways feels too small. Intended to be a snapshot of a few men’s lives in April 1945, Fury succeeds, but at the expense of fully fleshed characters. Most have no arc whatsoever, and the one who does—Logan Lerman’s—is generic. The lack of character depth is glossed over with some strong dialogue, but that only goes so far.
The climax, too—and I’ve heard this from others—is rather abrupt, perhaps over-the-top in a way that a serious war movie shouldn’t be and not entirely fulfilling. But again, as an action movie, it’s still pretty good.
Fury is a gorgeous movie that is limited by its emotionally distant characters. Nonetheless, the actors are strong, the action is intense and the writing otherwise interesting, making it a worthwhile venture even if it isn’t the Saving Private Ryan some thought it may be.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.