Film Review: Fury

Tuesday 24 January 2017 by

Film, World War II, Fury, Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs, Michael Peña, Norman Ellison

I’d been wanting to watch Fury for a while now because it had such rave reviews when it first came out. This film tells the story of a tank crew (and their tank, “Fury”) during the Second World War as they head in to Germany following D-Day and the retreat of the German army.

Led by Don (Brad Pitt), the crew find themselves against a desperate German backlash, out-gunned against the bigger and stronger German tanks, and alone as they lead the way for the advancing Allied army. The catalyst for the story is when Logan, played by Norman Ellison, joins the crew as a replacement, and his reaction to this bitter and angry group and the brutality of frontline war.

This is no easy watch. Whether in the tank or outside, the shots are intense and claustrophobic; grimy, bloody and dark, the landscape they are going through has been ravaged by war, and atrocities happen on both sides. The crew are not portrayed as nice people – rather, they are complex and badly scarred by their experiences, they are desperate and angry and this shows in their immediate and violent reactions. The tank itself plays a huge part – both enemy and protector, the tank is their home, but it is neither safe nor comfortable. It is a looming presence – a reminder and a reassurance. The film is about Fury as much as it is about the Second World War.

But Fury has one of the best casts I’ve seen in a while – Shia LeBeouf as the religious and philosophical Boyd, Michael Peña as the more sensitive Trini Garcia, Jon Bernthal as the physical and furious Grady, and of course Brad Pitt as Don, who is left to lead his crew in an impossible situation. There feels like there is real camaraderie and loyalty amongst them, and the depth of their performances show as complex and troubled characters who show moments of compassion and bravery even amongst the violence.

Because this is a really violent film. There is no getting away from it. Trapped in the tanks, the crews are under threat of not only getting shot, but being blown up or set alight. There is no escape from the tanks, and if you are hit you are, more often than not, dead. The film shows how this crew try to deal with that deadly promise, whilst at the same time still rolling forward with the advance in to Germany.

The result? Fury’s crew are soon the only tank left, and are asked to make a choice between safety and death. I don’t feel like I’m giving anything away when I say that we all know what they choose. The final battle, so to speak, is conducted almost entirely at night, making a lot of it almost impossible to make out. I’m not great with fast action scenes in the dark in any film, and I do feel like I missed a lot of what was going on – but then I get why filmmakers use night time action as a means of creating tension and atmosphere. I do wish people could have their final showdowns on a nice clear day every now and then though!

I have to admit that I absolutely loved this film. Although “loved” is perhaps the wrong word for it – it’s hard to love a film that centres around such violent characters and such horrifying situations. But the whole thing was captivating – it was bold and brash and unflinching. Pitt’s performance was outstanding (although I will admit that this is a familiar character for Pitt in many ways), but it was the supporting cast – LeBeouf, Bernthal, Peña, and newcomer Ellison – that really made this film for me. Even the brief appearance by Jason Isaacs was fantastic.

Fury might have had a huge production budget, but it felt like it was made with real passion and understanding, and there’s no getting away from that. At the end of the film, Fury stands alone in the mud as you leave – and that parting shot is one that will stay for a long time. There is nothing beautiful about this film, but it is powerful. And one I recommend watching.

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