UK Release Date: 22nd October 2014
Runtime: 134 minutes
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Alicia von Rittberg, Jason Isaacs
Synopsis: The crew of a WW2 tank battle to stay alive in the dying days of the conflict as they fight deep within Nazi Germany.
Filmmaker David Ayer has made unflinching realism his trademark. With cop thrillers Training Day and End of Watch, he has carved out as a niche as a man capable of portraying humanity with all of its imperfections in sharp focus. His latest film, Fury, brings that realism to a tight-knit band of brothers at the helm of a tank in the dying days of the Second World War.
Deep within Nazi Germany, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) is a man down at the helm of his tank. He is joined by inexperienced recruit Norman (Logan Lerman), who is taught the ways of war the hard way by Gordo (Michael Pena), Bible (Shia LaBeouf) and Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal). When Wardaddy is tasked by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) with defending a strategically important road, the crew must become even closer to stay alive.
The central ethos of Fury is that war is the very opposite of glamour. Its opening shot is of a horse surveying the damage after a battle. This romanticised image of the war film is soon shattered by Brad Pitt jumping out of nowhere to stab the rider in the face. It’s a shocking, powerful sequence that shows exactly where Fury is pitching itself. This isn’t Hollywood war; this is a truthful depiction of history caked with mud, blood and entrails.
| "Ideals are peaceful. History is violent."
At the centre of Ayer’s film are a series of terrific performances, coaxed out of his cast by what he told me were “non-traditional” methods. Brad Pitt is excellent as the grizzled veteran, capable of great honour as well as great evil. He feels so remorse for forcing Logan Lerman’s nervous Private into committing a war crime, but then talks his crew out of menacing a young German girl.
Lerman’s performance is also one of nuance. Norman is a man who wants to be part of honourable service, but has a rose-tinted view of what war is really like on the frontline. The character’s transformation is played with great subtlety by the young star, conveying the true horror of what war can do to a man. Having previously worked with Darren Aronofsky on Noah, Lerman is working his way through many of the world’s top auteurs.
There’s an inconsistent quality to Fury, which does get across the chaotic and random nature of war in much the same way as the opening to Saving Private Ryan. However, it also means that the film suffers from erratic pacing. It veers wildly from blistering, fast-paced action sequences to extended scenes of people talking in rooms.
| "The Devil watches over his own."
Fury is a film about brotherhood and camaraderie in the face of adversity and carnage. By pushing his cast to the limit, David Ayer has constructed a brutally honest study of what it means to be caught in the midst of conflict. It paints an evocative picture of a band of men thrust together to fight a battle that is already over – desperate not to be the last to die.
Pop or Poop?
David Ayer continues his run of hits with Fury – a film that examines war through the brutal lens of a director obsessed with reality.
The cast are all on top form, with even Shia LaBeouf pulling off a decent performance as a Bible-obsessed soldier. Pitt’s macho star power and Lerman’s jittery innocence provide a brilliant central two-hander.
But it’s Ayer who is the true star here, putting his actors and the audience through the wringer.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.