fury 1

“Ideals are peaceful, History is violent”

I can’t make my mind up about “Fury”. As an escapist war film, it delivers well in a clichéd sort of way. But is it a true reflection on what the latter stages of WW2 were actually like? I doubt it. This film certainly doesn’t paint American soldiers in a good light, although after slogging their way across Europe for months on end, facing sense-numbing death and destruction on a daily basis, perhaps it is a realistic portrayal? I just don’t know, and would be interested to hear the views of any veterans who were there.

In many of the classic war films of the 50’s and 60’s, such as “The Longest Day” or “The Great Escape”, when people were shot they just threw their arms in the air and fell down: sanitised death – – “war is hell”, but let’s not show it on screen. Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” rather changed all of that, with 15 minutes of the most visceral footage seen to date, which even D-Day veterans agreed was frighteningly realistic. Spielberg followed that with the remarkable “Band of Brothers”, with some of the scenes – notably those in the Belgium forest – showing a realistic level of violence but more importantly bringing home the true mental anguish of war.

Brad Pitt in (and on) Fury
Brad Pitt in (and on) Fury

David Ayer’s “Fury” differs from this masterpiece in two notable ways: firstly, the ‘Tarentino effect’ seems to have been brought into play with a level of violence and gore that seems to have gone over the top: heads fly off and faces come off with gay abandon; secondly, the US tank crew at the heart of the film seem to be so cold and brutal that you care very little about what happens to them – cracks in the hardened shell of Brad Pitt’s character are not referenced again or followed through satisfactorily. Even the rookie crew member (a very good Logan Lerman) turns from pacifist shirker to hardened nut-job faster than you can say “Dead Nazi”. As such, your emotional attachment to him gets severed pretty early on (in fact this is such an unbelievable transition that a “1 month later” subtitle could have been judiciously added at this point).  

Logan Lerman
Logan Lerman

The tightly knit tank crew (Pitt, Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Berthal) all spark off each other well, with LaBeouf as the bible-quoting Boyd Swan being particularly memorable.

Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf

The gorgeously vulnerable Alicia von Rittberg plays Emma as the one and only love interest in the film: and for once, Brad Pitt doesn’t get the girl! This tense encounter is one of the best dramatic moments in the film.

A short female interlude:  Alicia von Rittberg and Anamaria Marinca
A short female interlude: Alicia von Rittberg and Anamaria Marinca

And Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs also delivers a great cameo as a scarred and embattled Captain Waggoner.

In terms of the film-making, it is an effectively put together film by David Ayer (“Training Day”, “The Fast and the Furious”) who also wrote the film.   Real life tanks, from Dorset’s Bovington Tank Museum, were used with South Oxfordshire standing in for rural Germany. The ‘Zulu-style’ climax is tense albeit very far fetched, with German’s conveniently choosing to regroup and think about it for a few minutes while dramatic and more reflective moments go on inside the tank.

Fury Tank in the Hayfield Battle in Columbia Pictures' FURY.
Tanks for the memory

Music is by Steven Price (his first film score following his Oscar success with “Gravity”) is effective – mixing electronica, orchestral and choral to good effect in the more dramatic scenes.

All in all, an enjoyable if rather gory romp with some memorable scenes that stick in the mind after the lights come on.  If you watch blood and gore films with your hands over your eyes, this is one you might want to miss:  your viewing time will be severely limited!  Certainly not as bad as it could have been, but more and better character development could have perhaps turned this from a good war film into a great war film.

Fad Rating:  FFFf.