(2014 - Director: David Ayer Cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf)
What Fury has going for it is its interesting subject matter and capable directing. Otherwise, its overall message of “war is horrific” seems like a redundant one.
Fury is brutal. The very first scene involves a gruesome kill that sets the stage appropriately. We see heads blow, bodies run over, executions, and body parts flying past screen. The violence is highlighted in this film or a reason. We all know WWII was terrible. But Fury is a deliberate attempt to desensitize us to why people die in war, much like our lead, Norman, is forced to succumb to the psychological effects of war from his superior, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt). Wardaddy tells Norman, “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.” It’s easy to look at war in hindsight and hold people to certain standards, but once you’ve seen what those soldiers saw on a daily basis, those standards change. Wardaddy proceeds to beat the ideals out of Norman by explaining that war is simple: the Nazis are there to kill them, and they are there to kill the Nazis. Simple as that. It was times like this when the film kept getting trapped by its own "preachiness". Norman serves as the "modern man" who couldn’t possibly understand the horrors of WWII. Norman's discovery of what the Nazis are capable of serves as his motivation to change his tune. He shifts gears to understand and admire a man like Wardaddy: A man who puts aside his fears to survive war the only way you can; kill or be killed.
I preferred the exploration of the theme of civility as seen in one extended scene where Wardaddy and Norman come across two German women in their apartment. It’s a brief reminder of normal living. A brief reminder that gentleness still exists in a world full of malice. Wardaddy personifies that connection between the barbaric and civilized. He washes and shaves his fit body and face just like any normal man would. And then we see his scarred back; the eternal reminder of the pain he's seen. The scene is long, peaceful, and feels awkward in a film that is abrupt and jarring. Which is the point, I guess. The scene is broken by ugliness, followed by tragedy. Much like war itself.
Fury has plenty of contemplative moments and brilliant action to make this film worth your while. Personally, I've always been fascinated with tank warfare. (I even wrote a play about a WWII tank crew while I was in college.) These machines were magnificent metal beasts capable of just about anything. But inside, they required 5 men in claustrophobic quarters willing to be on the front lines of war. Fury gives great insight to life and death inside a tank. It's a canvas for great drama and great action. It's easy to see the cast loved being part of this film. The brotherhood seemed real, and made it easy to invest in these characters.
Some closing thoughts: The last scene could have been cut about 5 minutes. The longer it went on, the more unrealistic it becomes. Is this Shia LaBeouf's finest hour?