Film review: Fury

Brad Pitt stars in Fury
Brad Pitt stars in Fury
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Joseph Austin reviews war movie Fury, starring Brad Pitt.

In this gritty and brutal action drama from End of Watch director David Ayer, Fury follows the exploits of a battle-weary Sherman tank crew during the Allies’ final push for the European Theatre in 1945.

In its starring role is Brad Pitt, who last had Hitler quaking in his boots in Quentin Tarantino’s absurdly enjoyable Inglorious Basterds.

Not too dissimilar from his previous incarnation, Pitt plays the battle-scarred and bullish tank commander Sergeant ‘Wardaddy’ who, along with his four-man crew, have been fighting since their campaign began in North Africa some time ago.

Outgunned and outmatched with the war nearing its end, Wardaddy and his men are forced to question their commitment when given a series of dangerous missions deep into enemy territory.

Fury is good at what it does; it’s loud, it looks good (though green and grey can take its toll before too long) and delivers some satisfying tank-on-tank action.

With the majority of screen time dedicated to the claustrophobic underbelly of the rumbling Sherman, writer/director David Ayer uses numerous close-ups and point of view shots to effectively portray both the complexities of tank warfare and the raw emotions of soldiers in combat.

But, it’s what Fury doesn’t do well that ultimately sends this slug of a war movie into disrepair.

It is overtly macho from the beginning – leaping through the air, Wardaddy unseats a German officer on horseback before plunging a knife deep into the soldier’s eye socket.

The macho mentality continues when Wardaddy takes it upon himself to turn group newcomer Norman (Logan Lerman), a boy who hasn’t fired his weapon since basic training and is literally repulsed by all things military, into a fearless war machine.

We’re meant to relate to Norman and experience the war through his eyes as he undergoes several rites of passage, including a scene where Wardaddy procures him a charming German girl.

And we do to some extent, even though Norman’s war is full of macho pretence and Hollywood romanticism.

In an attempt to be deep and meaningful, Fury’s narrative ends up being riddled with clichés and full of stereotypes.

The rest of Wardaddy’s unit are a bunch of all too familiar war movie types; the religious fanatic, ‘Bible’, played by the estranged Shia LeBeouf, the soldier of ethnicity, ‘Gordo’ (Michael Pena), and the obnoxious military grunt ‘Coon-Ass’ (John Bernthal).

The film’s climax is also off-putting, feeling like the last level of a first-person shooter game.

Although well-acted and visually impressive, Fury’s all killer and no filler storyline burns a colossal hole in its rather ambitious shell.

Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers it ain’t, yet there’s just enough on show here to please war enthusiasts and popcorn eaters alike.