Thursday, 23 October 2014
FILM REVIEW: FURY
War is hell. It's a sentiment that's been at the heart of almost every war film ever made so there's little to distinguish David Ayer's Fury in that regard from the battalion of movies which have preceded it.
Not even its focus on the one Sherman tank and the five-man squad which inhabit it is an entirely novel concept: the 2009 Israeli film, Lebanon, took place within the claustrophobic confines of an army tank during the Lebanon War of 1972.
Fury is the name given to the Sherman tank captained by Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), a take-no-prisoners leader who stands strong for the men under his command and does all his doubting in the rare moments he's alone. Boyd (Shia LaBeouf), the Bible-basher, Trini (Michael Pena), the Mexican-American, and Grady (Jon Bernthal), the redneck, have seen all of their action in North Africa and Europe in Wardaddy's company and now, in the final months of World War II as the Allies push further and further into Germany, they're joined by newbie, Norman (Logan Lerman).
A military clerk, Norman has not seen any action but he's about to undergo a baptism of fire; Wardaddy keen to impress upon the young man that it's 'kill or be killed', with no room for sympathy no matter the age or sex of your enemy, nor even if they appear to be dead or not. An extra round of fire into a lifeless body can't hurt either way.
Episodic in structure, Fury excels in its action sequences -- the film's third act comprised nearly of one entire 'last stand' scenario -- but splutters somewhat when it stops to focus on the men inside the war machine.
And things aren't helped any by the at-times indecipherable dialogue. While the highly effective sound design has you rattled by shell fire and jumping at exploding land mines, it's often a struggle to understand Grady's thick Southern accent or Boyd's recitation of Bible verses when the men are at rest. We get subtitles whenever Wardaddy spricht Deutsch, but we could use them for some of the English too.
Never as overwhelmingly claustrophobic as Lebanon but intermittently tension-filled, Fury succeeds when in the midst of battle but fails to win hearts and minds when a ceasefire is called to focus on the less than convincing human drama.