Film Review: Fury

Fury was a film that, for some almost unexplainable reason, had completely passed me by. In fact it wasn’t until my Mother mentioned having read an article about it in her daily newspaper that I even knew it existed. An article that was printed only days before its release. With the tank having now rolled into view and my Mother asking to potentially see it, it became a case of just waiting for the major reviewers to give it a passing nod of approval and then find a time head to the big screen.

Set in the dying embers of the Second World War as the Allied forces pushed further and harder into Germany, the film purely centres around the tale of a tank’s American crew. Brad Pitt takes the role of Sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, leader and commander; while the rest of his crew is made up of: Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Peña) and Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal). And as they undertake ever increasing orders to drive harder towards victory, we are treated to a story which shows the birth, development and acceptance of what is, akin to a family, simply bonded through scenario and through reliance on each other to survive.

Cast (Brad Pitt - Shia LeBoeuf & Logan Lerman) - Fury

A lot of the reviews and interviews I’d heard and seen suggested that Fury was a flawed but acceptable film. That when it was loud, shouty and literally all guns blazing it was in its element; but that as soon as the calm arrived, as soon as the guns drew quiet, the tracks, literally, started to come off and ground the film down. However, for me, while this is easily and arguably true, it is also completely missing the point of the film.

I do agree, the film has a very poor use of narrative, in fact, it’s so poor it seems to serve only to increase the running time to such an extent that Fury starts to feel drawn out and overly long a good distance short of the end credits, but, to focus solely on that is to miss what is so good about this film. This is a film about camaraderie. About shared experiences, trust and love. This is the tale of what happens when you confine people into a bubble of existence in which they bond in a way that goes beyond just friendship. Realise that actions speak louder than words, and you start to see this film for what it is – an immense portrayal of an emotional response to a horrific situation.

Fury, however mishandled this may sound, is spectacularly beautiful in its use of war. This movie is all or nothing. I would even say it takes the imagery of war and of death too far on numerous occasions and there are plentiful instances where it’s borders slightly above its BBFC Age Classification of 15. War is horrible, it’s violent and it’s painful and with the highest praise I can give it, Fury captures this and forces you to confront those terrors in a way that feels almost, documentary like in it’s suffering.

Logan Lerman - Fury

A lot of the reviews seem to centre around Shia LaBeouf, and the performance he provides, but for me it’s Logan Lerman, who is virtually unrecognisable from his turn in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, who totally steals the show. LaBeouf is good, but for me he still failed to really shrug off the remnants of a Transformers franchise, which, created a sense of mistrust in his performance. I no longer feel truly convinced his characters are really capable of the actions he performs. Lerman, though, provides a level of believability that I haven’t seen since, and I would say almost surpassed that of, Jeremy Davies as Corporal Upham in Saving Private Ryan. He brings the petrifaction, the realisation and the mental torture of war and how, ultimately, however much you push against its overwhelming and all encompassing force, the flight or flight, the kill or be killed response when forced into that situation, leads to only one outcome.

It needs to be pointed out though, that aside from Fury’s prolonged running time born out of a poor and almost unnessary attempt to implement a narrative element, I have one major issue that cannot be over looked. The way director David Ayer has included and used tracer fire during the frequent gun fights. Now, don’t get me wrong, trace fire existed in World War 2 and in a perversely attractive way, watching old footage of it lighting up a pitch black sky can be almost hypnotic; but in Fury, it’s use borders upon over saturation. There are times when there is so much shooting and so much tracer whizzing passed the lens that you the action feels more akin to a sci-fi fight than Nazi occupied Germany. It creates a dangerous sense of futurism. You almost expect to see Hans Solo and Luke fly past. It’s a distraction, that actually doesn’t add to the film, serving more over to disconnect you slightly. You could take it out and arguably increase the intensity and the dramatic effect. Let the noise of alone define the cacophony of war in which they are surrounded.

Tracer Fire - Fury

And noise was for me, this films defining moment. It’s loud. It’s very loud. It’s also slightly ironic that the strap line to Fury is: War Never Ends Quietly. But the lasting memory is the soundtrack. Composed by Steven Price, who also composed the score of Gravity, he once again brings to life a backing track that is not only mesmeric in it’s elegancy and subtly but also in it’s ability to convey lasting emotion. It’s so good in fact, it’s downloading as I type!

I truly am glad I have seen Fury because for a film which people had claimed was simply style over substance, I have come away feeling slightly shaken and moved by the intensity and feelings it has managed to draw forward. War films as a genre had become cornered recently into the modern world of behind the scenes stories. Of tales of espionage and interrogation. Lone Survivor started to reverse this, started put the gun back into the soldiers hand. Dragging the rawest element of war, the finality of death, back into the forefront of the action. And Fury has continued that trend. It has shown us all, that whatever else happens, war simply comes down to one man pointing a gun and another and that sadly, whoever fires first, usually lives to tell the tale.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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