Thursday, March 24, 2016

Quick Cut Review: "Fury"


World War 2 films have reached this point where there are still a lot of stories to tell but not too many new ways to tell them thus making the focus on the theme and the characters paramount to trying to give a different perspective on the many horrors of war. Not to sound unsympathetic but once you have seen a film about a group of soldiers dying selflessly in a number of graphic and needless ways you have seen them all and director David Ayer's film Fury is no different with the focus this time around a column of tanks heading into Germany at the tail end of the war. Read the full review after the break.

I can't seem to remember the name of the movie...what was it again? It's on the tip of my tongue, I swear...

Working as this sort of mash up between Saving Private Ryan and Memphis Belle, Fury tells the story of a small group of soldiers from all walks of life who like most at the time were pulled into the war early on and have been fighting tirelessly to stay alive amidst the constant death that surrounds them. Led by their commander played by Brad Pitt, the crew of the tank Fury have been put to the test time and time again as they miraculously survive one skirmish after the next. But their luck is running out as demonstrated when one of their crew is killed and are forced to take on the inexperienced Norman (Logan Lerman) just before heading into the battlefield of Germany.

The similarities to other war films is hard to avoid since there are so many but some more than others stand out like a sore thumb. The aforementioned Saving Private Ryan is a clear inspiration for the character of Norman who is a deadringer for the character Upam (Jeremy Davies) as both are inexperienced and must learn how to be a real soldier before being put to the ultimate test. I don't want to give away any spoilers but lets just say that both characters also share a very similar narrative path as well. The weakest parts of Fury revolve around things we have seen time and again such as watching the new guy get hazed by the vets or witnessing through the eyes of the new guy the depravity and senselessness of war on those civilians who are trying to sit it out on the sidelines.

Meet the crew of Fury which includes the one and only Shia Lebouf...SHIA SURPRISE!

Where Fury excels though is in its theme which is seeing the war through the eyes of a tank crew, a facet of every war that almost never gets much time devoted to it aside from being the ultimate threat or the ultimate savior in a battle. This is Fury's greatest achievement in that it strips away the facade that tanks were the ultimate anything during the war, they were nothing more than a tool and not really that different from a mobile bunker which can be exploited. They can be extremely useful when dealing with infantry or they can become a tomb for its crew when faced with taking out one of the more superior German tanks. This aspect of the film alone warrants a recommendation for any War film fans as it does give a new perspective on how essential tanks were to the war effort but also how they could spell certain doom for those who were trapped within them.

As interesting and different Fury is from other war films however it still doesn't go quite as far as it could have. We learn almost nothing about the inner workings of the tank and never given any sort of history on the mobile fortresses. We are told early on via text that American tanks were inferior to German tanks but it never goes beyond that. There is a scene where 3 American tanks try to take out a single German tank but the audience is never really told why this is so difficult. The only reason I knew that the German tank was superior was because I had seen other war films that told me the only way to destroy a German Tiger tank was to shoot it from behind and while that does in fact happen here we are never outright given that information to let us know why the American tanks are employing the strategy that they are. This lack of information hurts the film in the end since it never truly becomes the de facto film about armored warfare that it clearly sets out to be thusly cementing its fate as just another film about war.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Fury isn't the greatest war film ever made and chances are it won't stick with you like other war films have. It has a good cast and has a few noteworthy moments of tension that work simply because Ayer is such a skilled director, but the fault comes from the script side of things more than anything else. Most of the film is a tour through the war ravaged landscape of Germany that we have seen in countless other war films and the few fleeting moments of originality are hampered by the film's reluctance to give the audience the history and knowledge of tanks needed to fully understand the stakes at hand. It's a close call but Fury isn't all that necessary unless you are interested in the cast and/or watching tanks blow people up.

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