Fury review: Brad Pitt, Shia LeBouf deliver a visceral thriller on war and humanity

Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and the weirdest person on the planet Shia Le Beouf, Fury is a visceral thriller with well-written characters – a rarity in Hollywood.

Mihir Fadnavis October 31, 2014 09:27:08 IST
Fury review: Brad Pitt, Shia LeBouf deliver a visceral thriller on war and humanity

Writer-director David Ayer has had a bipolar career. He started off as the writer of the historically and hilariously inaccurate U-571, then burst upon the scene with the Oscar winning Training Day. Then came the clunker SWAT, the original Fast and the Furious, Dark Blue, the terrific Harsh Times, the terrible Street Kings, and the superb End of Watch.

Recently, he delivered the worst film of his career with Schwarzenegger’s Sabotage, for which he has now compensated us with the excellent war action drama, Fury.

Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and the weirdest person on the planet Shia Le Beouf, Fury is a visceral thriller with well-written characters – a rarity in Hollywood.

Pitt plays Wardaddy, the commander of a US tank ploughing through the terrains of Europe in World War II. He leads a brutally effective five-man band through mud, bullets and mayhem.

The equation within this team takes a hit when one crew member is killed in action and replaced by the newbie Norman (Lerman). The kid has a hard time integrating because he has to face the ultimate choice – whether to ram through the war, guns blazing, in order to survive; or think about the ethics of his actions when exterminating German civilians.

Fury review Brad Pitt Shia LeBouf deliver a visceral thriller on war and humanity

Image from Fury Facebook page

Fury is not your usual American propaganda Hollywood action war movie, because it has the courage to question the morality of its deeply American characters.

When given the diversion of a choice, Wardaddy offers Norman the bitter truth: ideals are peaceful, but war is violent. Ayer explores how much a human mind can take in extreme conditions of violence before it shatters and gives in to the barbarism surrounding the body.

At what point, the movie asks, is it ok to spare a life when you’ve taken a hundred? How much mental strain can a good-natured soldier take before crossing over to the dark side? The narrative offers quite a few shocking scenes to render the breaking point of humanity when faced with brutality.

The extent of philosophy ends there though.

This isn’t The Thin Red Line with haunting poems of love and loss delivered through misty voiceovers. There are shades of Apocalypse Now in the way the film chronicles the mental fracture of some of the characters.

But while Ayer ensures the film engages you with its emotional maturity, this is an action film and there’s enough to keep things entertaining, blockbuster style.

The true achievement of Fury is the camaraderie between the members of Wardaddy’s squad. All of them have a single mission: to load their guns and kill.

The guys go about their job like robots and the sheer lack of empathy these characters have, affects the way they interact with one another. The actors really deliver. Even the generally insufferable Le Beouf, who plays the glazed-eyed Bible, is outstanding. He cut his cheek off camera to get a scar that Bible had to have in the film, which shows a mentally unstable level of dedication, but his efforts bear fruit.

Fury also benefits from Roman Vasnyanov’s gritty cinematography as well as Steven Price’s music. Most of the movie is claustrophobic and really ‘physical’ in the way it moves.

Modern movies utilize a lot of CGI that takes you away from the story, but in Fury everything that happens seems authentic. The insanity of war and the unflinching heroism of the soldiers really come to life on screen, even if at some points it seems like Brad Pitt’s tank alone won the war against Germany.

Never mind how historically accurate the film may be. A little creative liberty is allowed, if the resulting product is this good.

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