Film: Fury – Real tension and thumping action
Increasingly impressive and improving writer/director David Ayer takes a trip into the heart of WW2’s grueling tank warfare as he juggles an ambitious feat of action, camaraderie and story telling, switching from claustrophobic tanks to vast and grand German towns.
‘Ideals are peaceful. History is violent’ utters Brad Pitt’s Wardaddy during one of but few lulls in this war actioner. The trend and frequency of World War movies seemed to be nullifying in the last decade or so but it seems, after garnering over $200 million worldwide, Fury may be an indication that great heroic stories are yet to be told and learnt from.
Although this film plays on tentative truthfulness what makes it real and tangible are the uncanny performances and grounded characters in the feature. Uncanny is not a word I use often, as it seems all modern writers work in two tones – black or white. Very rarely do they delve into the grey area. But I get the feeling that Ayer sees every character as a duality of good and evil. Despite Fury’s tank team combatting Nazi forces, there are points where we question their actions, their motives and their reasoning. And so it seems refreshing that characters appear real – conflicted, brutal and hypocritical.
Shia LaBeouf, the once-charisma vacuum and general weirdo, is perhaps the standout performer here. He excels as Bible, a rather eccentric man in his own regard, despite minimal lines and screen time otherwise surrendered to Brad Pitt’s patriotic and stern faced Wardaddy – who is once again just Brad Pitt in a soldier’s uniform.
Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena and Logan Lerman always bring their strongest hands to the table and Fury is no different. Bernthal, perhaps jaded by his role in The Walking Dead, has failed to break out onto the big screen as a real star presence but there is no doubt he will be a respected character actor for years to come. Pena has worked with Ayer before but is unfortunately the weakest link in the Fury team, whilst Lerman is quickly developing into a hot young prospect that will be lauded and in employment for years to come.
The biggest strength for Fury is not its performances, nor its splashes of great writing but rather its satisfying yet harrowing action sequences. You feel the brutality of the war – never the real thing, heaven forbid we ever experience that – we get pretty damn close. There is a sense that Ayer sees human losses and fatalities as Band-Aids; focus must be given to them but ripped off and glossed over quickly.
Fury climaxes into one great fog filled stand to the death. It does not shy from blurring the line between good and bad nor does it lack in heart pumping action. The tension is real, the action is satisfies our primal instincts and the losses are felt.
Fury was a hidden gem in the 2014 calendar. Sadly, it did not reach its full potential as it found itself mired by mediocre performances peppered throughout. Unnecessary scenes and an overall sense of normality also worked towards its detriment. It’s hard to put your finger on it but something was missing from Fury.
Score – B