“Fury” is high-octane action with a valiant heart

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Ready, aim, fire! “Fury,” the war movie directed by film connoisseur David Ayer and starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia Labeouf is a stellar account of a brutal tank battle during the tumultuous World War II. While it may draw heavy similarities from its senior film “Saving Private Ryan,” make no mistake that this film crafts its own identify and uses the inspiration provided by the acclaimed film to lay its foundation firm. “Fury” is high-octane action with a valiant heart.

The premise of “Fury” is very straightforward and basic. A tank battalion, nicknamed “Fury,” famed on the battlefield for its swift action, is tasked with liberating numerous towns occupied by Nazi Germany. The film takes place in April 1945, during Hitler’s last stand against the allied troops, so the fighting was intense. This is shown at its finest when Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) impales an enemy soldier with a knife in the opening scene. It’s foreshadowing of the impending casualties ahead — and what happens later is much more gruesome than a simple stabbing. Wardaddy’s assembled crew consists of hardened veterans who have been fighting together since the front opened in 1942 in Africa. These experiences in North Africa brought the group together as very close friends. The banter exchanged between them is volatile and rough, but pales in comparison to the actual realities they are faced with. From the inception of the film you can tell that the relationships formed on-screen were authentic and provide the film with much-needed comedic relief to take us out of the death and destruction of many of the scenes.

The acting in the film is impressive and defies the stigma of many war films where character development is tossed out of the window for the plot’s sake. Each member of the battalion carries a personality that not only matches the setting. For example, Boyd (Labeouf) is religiously pious and consistently repents for the kills he commits during the war. It gives the film a realistic edge to make this movie feel organic. Wardaddy is a calculating and hardcore man for his troops, sacrificing civilians if need be. People were utilized by Hitler to carry out total war, so a typical child could conceal the deadliest of weapons, thus causing tough calls to be made by allied forces.

Despite these acts, he is also empathetic. Underneath his hardened exterior you can tell he truly cares about the cause he is fighting for and the teammates he has journeyed with since the beginning of the African invasion. Pitt is phenomenal because you can never actually pinpoint his aspirations or thoughts. He is a wild card captured underneath a very smug demeanor. Norman (Lerman) also surprises with his performance. He has never done anything this gritty before, so he was essentially testing the waters during filming. Initially a typewriter for the army, Norman is sporadically stationed to be with the fury battalion as the assistant shooter. His lighthearted and sympathetic ways are met with contempt by his peers until the carnage around him transforms him into a hardened warrior.

An integral part to the war movie’s intensity is the usage of the soundtrack to create a realistic atmosphere. Steven Price, the man who composed for “Gravity,” was charged with making this film’s music as compelling as possible. Price is adept at crafting ambiance even more eerie and hopeless than the cinematography already does by adding in music that resonates and tugs at your heartstrings. Battles are adorned with deafening drums and orchestras to command the attention of the audience. The large belting of the orchestra signified to the audience that something was about to get very grim. Coupled with that is your typical patriotic war fanfare, which wasn’t nearly as compelling, but still got the job done nicely.

Without seeing the film, you may write it off as a “Saving Private Ryan” wannabe with little emotions and commentary to coax its plot. However, that would also be doing this film a huge disfavor. “Fury” has many things to be proud of. The writing, acting and music propel this movie forward. The premise, while hackneyed in a sense, goes into impressive depth about tank warfare which is not usually highlighted in average war films. “Fury” will definitely serve as this generation’s classic war movie and I imagine succeeding films of the same genre will take notes from this great movie.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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