Brad Pitt’s war movie is neither fast nor furious – until the end at the very least.
Trying so hard to emulate the likes of Saving Private Ryan (see similarities between Pitt’s team compared to Hanks’ group in Spielberg’s epic), David Ayer’s (End of Watch) tank-drama is never quite as clever as it wants to be – and ends up as a middling World War II film entry.
Fury is not without its commendable merits as it shows gritty tank warfare up, close and personal, and takes place right at the end of the conflict on German soil – both areas which have rarely been covered in war-based movies – and for that at least tries to provide something a little different.
And come the tense ending battle, you can’t help but care for battle-hardened army sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier’s (an always good value Pitt) five-man squad – which includes Shia LeBeouf (Transformers), Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson), Michael Pena (Crash) and Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) – due to the atrocities of war that have gone before them.
Bar that, this April 1945-set spectacle is a quite slow and methodical affair – with less minutes of actual war-action than probably expected – that has a long scene shoe-horned in the middle where Lerman’s rookie newcomer has a ‘rights of passage’ encounter with a young German girl (Alicia Von Rittberg).
Whether this is an intriguing look at American soldiers’ adventures on Nazi soil, or abruptly stops the flow of the film, will be open to some conjecture – but Spielberg, Oliver Stone or Stanley Kubrick, director David Ayer isn’t (at least yet).
Fortunately (as touched upon) the tank platoon’s weary veterans like Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan – LeBeouf in a welcome return to form after his recent series of public meltdowns – Garcia (Pena), Travis (Bernthal), and particularly an impressive Lerman as Norman, provide enough on-screen camaraderie (when you can understand what they’re saying) to support Pitt’s surprisingly ruthless lead.
This undoubtedly would have had Oscar aspirations to be up there with war’s great movies, but doesn’t get anywhere close to matching its seemingly larger ambitions, with up-and-coming director Ayer – who is also being lined up for DC Comics’ ensemble spin-off Suicide Squad – not quite nailing the tone.
Fortunately its visceral (and even moving) final battle as Wardaddy’s Sherman tank crew – completely outnumbered and outgunned – take on an entire German platoon to hold a vital position as the Allies make their final push, nearly makes this worth a watch for that alone.
But ultimately this will probably be the only thing the movie is really remembered for.