There’s a reason the slick 40's look is on its way back into fashion; people have realised it actually looks cool and classy, and nobody epitomises it more than Brad Pitt in Fury. Hair combed back with more oil than in a whole tank platoon, he looks strangely contemporary in a movie set during the final months of World War 2.
It’s 1945 and Hitler is on the ropes. The Allies are in Germany and are tightening the noose on the Nazis. Director David Ayer is no stranger to action having given us the fairly awesome End of Watch in 2012 and the pretty mild Sabotage earlier this year. That being said, if you’re expecting Fury to be a straight-up meat-head shoot ‘em up, you’ll be sorely disappointed. It has depth, character and heart; it’s one of the best war films I’ve seen for a long time.
The titular tank and her crew are on a mission to eradicate the last of the Nazi threat from Germany and along the way Norman sees and experiences things his training never prepared him for - I doubt a writer ever had to gun down burning soldiers before. His initial inexperience causes plenty of friction among his new crew-mates, they’ve survived for so long together thanks to Wardaddy, and they don’t want to let this rookie spoil all that. Everyone puts in a solid shift; the performances are fantastic across the board. LaBeouf has taken a break from his off-the-wall antics to deliver an anchored turn as the obligatory religious member of the group, and a lot can be said for Berthnal’s portrayal of the simple but passionate Coon-Ass.
As you’d expect though the show belongs to Pitt and Lerman who get more screentime than anyone else. A rather strange scene where the two are having dinner extends the runtime a tad too much perhaps, but it offers a fantastic insight into all of the chief characters. It’s a necessary lull in an otherwise explosive movie, and thankfully it’s action with intelligence rather than a Michael Bay crapfest.
Make no mistake though; this isn’t the kind of dim-witted action flick that you’d see on Channel 4 on a Friday night. There’s emotion here, and lots of it. The explosions are punctuated with moments of genuine sadness, with some scenes being incredibly reminiscent of the horrifying sights in Schindler’s List. This isn’t glam warfare; this is a dark, nasty and uncomfortable look at the Second World War, and we’re dropped right into the middle of it. The audience is Norman, the director is Wardaddy, this is his world and we’re being pulled kicking and screaming through it.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that almost zero thought has been put into this movie, the trailers didn’t fill many people with confidence about narrative depth, but the results are plain to see. I feared for a fractured group of core characters where I wasn’t interested in any except Pitt and Lerman’s soldiers, but by the end I was struggling to choose which my favourite was. The relationship is believable, these guys really are brothers in arms and that’s perhaps the biggest strength of the movie. Where so many team-based films fall flat with hollow, dull characters, Fury has a full deck. You’ll care about them all.
Their journey is epic, their story is gripping and the conflict they find themselves in is a pleasure to behold on the big screen. David Ayer deserves plenty of credit for pulling all these strands together to make Fury a heartfelt and deep war movie that is never anything less than thoroughly entertaining.