Sunday, October 19, 2014

Movie Review: "Fury" (2014)

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Director: David Ayer
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt) is the commanding sergeant of a tank crew called Fury. His backup driver/gunner was just killed in their most recent battle. 'Wardaddy' is assigned a new back-up driver/gunner named Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a young soldier who was trained as a typist and has never even been inside of a tank. He meets the rest of the grizzled tank crew, Boyd 'Bible' Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini 'Gordo' Garcia (Michael Peña), and Grady 'Coon-Ass' Travis (Jon Bernthal), who don't think much of him. Norman Ellison is a lamb dropped into a den of lions, and he must learn to become a killer lion or he may cause himself and his fellow soldiers to be slaughtered on the fields of battle.

If you're expecting "Fury" to be a film that will exalt the glories of war, you might want to look for a different movie. This is a frank, authentic look at the harsh realities of war and all of the extreme amounts of death and destruction that come with it. The Fury tanker crew members are not the poster-perfect, crisp and clean-bred soldiers fighting simply for honor, freedom and America. They are a bunch of grizzled, dirty, hardened guys in Germany who are just executing their job and following their order: to kill or be killed. They often exclaim that this is 'the best job they ever had,' even though each second they are on a battlefield could essentially be their last. These men will even kill women or children if they believe them to be Nazis or they pose a threat, but hey, that's war.

All around, the acting is superb. Brad Pitt is phenomenal as Sergeant Collier. He plays a man toughened by the hardship of war and keeps a stone-faced demeanor in front of the men he commands, but he is not unaffected by the part he plays as an instrument of combat. Collier definitely understands the tragedy of what's going on around him, and this is shown several times throughout the film. When he finds himself off on his own and is forced to be alone with his thoughts, as well as the harsh realities with what he is done, we as the audience are able to see his vulnerability, his sadness, and how scared he truly is, until he is brought back to reality and must put on his war-face once again to join up with his battalion. Wardaddy seems borderline heartless at times. He kicks and berates his crew and is almost constantly yelling at them, and yet is willing to risk everything, even his life, to protect his them. BigJ likes Brad Pitt anyways, and I have always been reserved when it comes to him, but he really impressed me in this film, and he was not the only one. Logan Lerman plays Ellison, a innocent, young, unprepared man turned soldier, and does so well. It helps that he has a very young, fresh face, and this adds to his naivete. Though a relative newcomer, we have been impressed with him thus far and are looking forward to seeing him in more movies to come. As crazy as Shia Labeouf is in reality, he also did a fine job as Bible, a man who is a born-again Christian and wears his sorrow on his face. He is often crying when he on camera, and though this got distracting to me (mainly since I am not a fan of his), it worked for this role. Jon Bernthal has been typecast since "The Walking Dead" (possibly even before, we don't know for sure) as a foul and loudmouthed, Southern hick and anti-hero who is overall a decent person but does a striking amount of bad in his life. This is no exception in this film, but his characteristics were needed to bring out both the best and the worst in his comrades. Michael Peña added what little comedy was found in this movie, and it seems that he and director David Ayer have a deal where, if he directs, Peña will act for him.

Though most films that deal with war have large amounts of brutality by default, this movie is wrought with violence and massive quantities of it. In any given scene, audiences will see heads being blown apart after being shot off from a distance, legs being blasted clear off bodies, people being burned alive, even bodies being steamrolled by tanks. There are also some crazy and intense tank battle sequences that will make you stay on the edge of your seat. The word that best describes the violence found here is grisly, but this level of gratuity was necessary to be an effective film. Filmmakers obviously took the time to make these battle scenes as accurate and genuine as possible, leaving audiences to feel each and every emotion that these soldiers went through during the war.

The overall theme for not just this particular film, but for any real war, is encompassed in this single line: "wait until you see what a man can do to another man." This was not only true for the film, but is true for all wars in general, whether it is something purported by our enemies, or our allies, or even by ourselves. Unfortunately, war is a necessary evil, and those who are exposed to it often come back completely changed by what they have witnessed. BigJ and I have tremendous amounts of respect for those who serve and have served in the armed forces, even if we might not always agree with why we are at war in the first place. We were left marveled and disturbed by the raw brutality this film brought and took a deep, exhausted breath for what we had just witnessed. Excellent film!

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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