“Fury” – a Film Review by Gary Chew
Following the thought processes of the principal characters in the new Brad Pitt film, “Fury,” might offer a semblance of reason as to why such barbaric acts are nowadays being performed for real … (!) … by the ugly phenomenon known as ISIS or ISIL. The twist, though, is that the ISIS-like perpetrators in the movie are the good guys — slaughtering Nazis.
Since I came to cognition of my existence during World War II — living in America — I can accurately report that I seriously loathe the concept of Nazism. There’s no need to conclude that I have any fascistic tendencies.
“Fury” puts you inside a Sherman tank … that large, growling machine of war that can spout death on a sylvan glade of pasture in a heartbeat. Pitt (“Wardaddy” Collier) and his crew are in deep trouble since German Panzers are far superior to US tanks in the spring of 1945 when the Allies are marching on Berlin and the demise of Hitler and the Führer’s imposed agony is imminent.
This is no “John Wayne” war movie. In terms of despair and death, “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Thin Red Line” come closer. Grisly is the predominate tone of this “Fury.” Also unnerving are the psychological paths the minds of the slogging tankers ricochet along. Brutality takes its toll on Wardaddy and his crew … all slipping ever more deeply into what was called “Shell Shock” in WWI … and now PTSD.
“Fury” is a five-star movie if measured for machismo and testosterone. There’s even a short sequence when the killing subsides enough to allow Pitt to remove his shirt and, bare-chested, shave his chin stubble.
“Wardaddy” is the paragon of a hard-nosed SOB; a loving father figure who brooks no screwing around about slaying Germans. He’ll kick your ass, but always have your back. Wardaddy’s motivation suggests that, outside being the boss of a big armored tank, Staff Sergeant Collier “ain’t” got much going for him but pride and honor in what he does. It’s at once impressive and pathetic … and makes a person thankful such men exist for fighting for a just cause, and compels one to wonder if ISIS-types feel precisely the same way for reasons similar to what Wardaddy’s guys experience when wasting German soldiers. Seems to me, it’s not a bad idea to over-think such stuff.
This might be Pitt’s best outing. He is terribly convincing. Also, Boyd “Bible” Swan, played by Shia LeBoeuf, diminishes any disbelief that might ensue as you watch “Fury.”
Other excellent turns come from other crew members: Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (obviously a Louisiana native) played by Jon Bernthal; Trini “Gordo” Garcia played by Michael Peña and Norman Ellison played by Logan Lerman as the new guy on the Sherman who has only been on active duty for eight weeks as a clerk typist before being ordered to serve on Wardaddy’s mean machine that’s harder to handle than any funky Underwood typewriter. Look for Lerman to be back since he’s quite a good actor, doing an fine job with a important role that works heavily on the narrative.
David Ayer wrote and directed “Fury.” He could have fooled me about where he shot the film. It sure looks like über muddy rural terrain in Germany, but all of it was filmed at various locations across the UK and in London. Ayer had a writer’s or director’s hand in three other super macho movies: “The Fast and the Furious,” “Training Day” and “End of Watch.” Vin Diesel, Denzel Washington and Jake Gyllenhaal appeared in one of that kick-ass trio of flicks. Add Brad Pitt to Ayer’s list.