FURY [LONDON FILM FESTIVAL]

PrintE-mail Written by Peter Turner

MOVIE REVIEW: FURY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DAVID AYER / SCREENPLAY: DAVID AYER / STARRING: BRAD PITT, LOGAN LERMAN, JON BERNTHAL, MICHAEL PENA, SHIA LABEOUF / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 22ND

In the final days of World War II, the Allies are making their final push into the heart of Germany, continuing to strike at the Nazis but now becoming the occupying force for the first time in the war. Battle-hardened sergeant Wardaddy (Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew but has just lost one of his men and needs a replacement. Enter fresh faced rookie Norman (Lerman) into this makeshift family as the men become outnumbered and outgunned while the SS round up every German (man, woman or child) to fight in a desperate bid to defend their homeland.

Trapped in a tank, rolling ever forwards, these men (gunner, driver, mechanic, commander) are one unit; an organic well-oiled machine whose lives depend on their armoured vehicle responding instantly to their commands. The tracks roll ever onwards, bodies being crushed beneath the mud; the momentum barely pausing. Fury gives us war as a post-apocalyptic nightmarish inferno, all bullet-ridden bodies, burning buildings, and silhouetted, faceless soldiers massacring each other.

Though Fury has its fair share of action, when the tank does pause and the men scatter for some much needed rest and relaxation, Wardaddy takes his newfound surrogate son Norman inside a home and away from the horrors of war. It’s a devastatingly revealing scene at the heart of the film, as the pair find two German women in an apartment and the soldiers make an almost farcical (if it wasn’t so tragic) attempt to have what resembles a civilised family meal. Of course, it amounts to little as the war outside bursts in and these battle-hardened men prove themselves almost completely incapable of living anything close to normal lives again.

Fury is a film about the scars of war, from Wardaddy’s burnt back, to Shia LaBeouf’s (genuinely) scarred face, to the mental lacerations that have lashed all the characters’ minds. They are men tired of war, worn down by pushing back the Germans but somehow addicted to the savagery. Norman is no good to Wardaddy until he has been scarred himself; an initiation which means killing Germans mercilessly. If he isn’t damaged enough to be able to kill a man (or child) on sight, then he is a danger to the team.

Pitt brings darkness to his all-American hero but he is surrounded by some of the finest actors currently working. His Wardaddy is a dangerous, disturbed father-figure who is made a little less interesting as moral murkiness gives way to more standard heroics. Logan Lerman, perhaps the most untested of the principal cast, is dazzling as Norman, the new recruit whose eyes the audience is invited to witness this hell through. From typist and pianist to Nazi killer without conscious, it’s the most obvious arc, but Lerman’s innocent face pulls it off convincingly. Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal offer solid support (but could have been given a little more to do) but LaBeouf demonstrates exactly what he is capable of when he commits to this kind of role.

Speaking of commitment, director David Ayer commands his troops with ferocity, never shying away from the blood and the viciousness of war. Fury is a consistently tense war movie that emphasises the fear, the brutality, and the toll that war will take. From a veteran with an agenda, it is clear that Ayer and his cast have done their research. It might be slightly in thrall with the soldiers and the camaraderie, but it never forgets the fear and the scars these men carry. From the ludicrously testosterone-heavy Sabotage to this, Fury is an infinitely more mature film from the director, back up there with the likes of End of Watch.

Fury is almost relentlessly bleak; a real ‘war is hell’ movie where the line between right and wrong is rolled over and crushed. Its outstanding score from Steven Price soars out of the mud, blood, and guts, ensuring you’re more likely to leave the cinema in tears than feeling furious.

Expected Rating: 9 out of 10

Actual Rating: 

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