Release Date: 22 October 2014
Running time: 134 min
Director: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Peña, Jason Isaacs
‘War Never Ends Quietly’ claims Fury’s poster tagline; for this war epic that may even be an understatement. Ditching LA Cops for WWII soldiers, David Ayer once again provides his trademark blend of uber-machismo and unflinching violence. Exploding heads, flying guts; this is a grim and incredibly brutal depiction of the carnage and suffering experienced by both sides. Despite the 15 rating, the level of bloodshed on show is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately despite its best attempts at credibility and realism, Fury shows Ayer at his most crass and downright obnoxious.
Following a small unit of American soldiers in control of a single tank, Fury chronicles part of their journey across Nazi Germany towards the end of the war. In charge of this rag tag bunch is Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Pitt), a seasoned fighter who commands respect. When newbie Norman (Lerman) appears on the scene, the obedience of his team is tested when Wardaddy takes him under his wing. Fighting amongst themselves in some of the quieter intervals between battles, they unite in the face of adversity when faced with a greater enemy.
While Fury may be skilfully assembled, with a fairly strong cast, impressive cinematography and well choreographed action, all the good work is undone when it comes to the script and direction. Ostensibly, this is a story concerned with the human cost of war, and celebrates the bravery of those who put their lives on the line for a greater cause. In itself this is not a repellent notion;it is the flagrant way in which killing, war and death are celebrated and justified.
Much like this was a level in Call of Duty, Nazis spawn in wave after wave, and are butchered with triumphant whooping. There are times when there is hesitation; namely when German children are the attackers. However even then this is not given too much thought to allow for poignancy; it only allows them to kill the adult Nazis with more justified violence. Indeed, Brad Pitt’s Wardaddy is only one step away from his ridiculous character in Inglourious Basterds, talking out the side of his mouth and strutting around like a cartoon.
Possibly even more repugnant are the displays of rampant misogyny, which shows our heroes taking vulnerable women as prizes for their victories in war. One particular scene that of Jon Bernthal’s Grady terrorising Norman’s lover, is later justified purely on the basis that he was drunk at the time. These women are more often than not killed off suddenly for dramatic effect without being given a chance to develop as characters. This is Ayer’s second feature to be released this year; back in May he also directed the abhorrent Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Sabotage. Chalk another one up for David Ayer and his clear disregard for women and any kind of subtlety or sensitivity.
Violent, brash, ugly and often on the wrong side of nasty, Fury is a bitter cocktail of machismo, hollow patriotism and videogame-esque glorified violence. There are moments of greatness to be found here, but whether you can stand to dig through the toxic rubble to find it is another thing entirely.