Director David Ayer’s abiding message for Fury will surely be a quote by Brad Pitt’s character Don Collier in which he says, in one of the films rare quiet moments, “Ideals are peaceful, war is violent.” Fury lives up to that message and some. It’s a two hour mud and filth-ravaged gore fest with enough blood and death to shame Tarantino. You get the sense that Ayer is trying to say to other less violent, more stomach-friendly WW2 dramas that this slaughter and carnage actually happened and you can’t escape from it.
Set in 1945 near the end of the war when allied forces are slowly but surely pushing their way through Germany and onto Berlin, Fury focuses its attention on Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt), an American Tank commander and the rest of his less than jolly crew.
Naivety and innocence are two traits that certainly can’t survive in this WW2 drama, so when fresh, young recruit Norm (Logan Lerman) pops up, Pitt and the rest of his crew have to teach the rookie some harsh lessons in warfare.
With a strong supporting cast of Joe Berthnal, Shia LaBeouf (who is surprisingly good in his role) and Michael Pena, Fury has solid foundations. Rather than shy away from the gore, Fury embraces it and utilises it as a form of storytelling. David Ayer doesn’t have the characters necessarily tell us what Collier and his comrades have endured and why they are the hardened, emotionally detached individuals that they are, rather it shows us why.
From heads and legs being blown off to knives to the face, Fury never once paints anything other than an explicit, violent reality of WW2. The film does run the risk however of isolating some of its audience that might find the violence gratuitous and excessive such is the ferocious reoccurrence of it throughout. Mostly though, the blood, guts and gore approach works well. Several scenes and vivid images from Fury are going to stick with me for a long time which you get the sense is the films objective.
Whether you like it or not, it’s not a film that can be easily forgotten.
Few films I’ve seen this year have been so spot on tonally as Fury, approaching a very serious topic very seriously. Because of this it doesn’t try (for the most part) to be anything other than an immersive, isolated tale. It tells the story of how war can destroy a man both literally and metaphorically.
Ayer’s film succeeds in most areas because of its authenticity in setting the scene for us. The sludge that the soldiers drag themselves through feels authentic and symbolic of the war’s slowly but surely conclusion. The tank feels confined and claustrophobic just like our main characters position both in the war and their status as cannon fodder.
The film doesn’t exactly have a plot per se which isn’t a criticism necessarily as the characters and the context provide more than enough sustenance for entertainment as it is.
The only bum note in the film however comes as a result of the non-existence of an obvious ‘McGuffin’. The slightly schmaltzy out of character final act harps too much on sentimentality, and doesn’t stay faithful to the rest of the film’s ideals and messages.
Overall though, Fury is a gritty, immersive and thoroughly engaging journey through war, the kind that many audiences may not be accustomed to.
Fury is released on Blu-Ray and DVD via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Monday 23rd Feb 2015