Fury (London Film Festival 2014) Review
The star role for Brad Pitt makes it tempting to admonish World War II drama Fury as simply Inglourious Bastereds without humour, wit or, well, inventiveness. That’s certainly true – director/writer David Ayer isn’t aiming to subvert or deliver Tarantino pop culture lessons – but the closer comparison lies with Pitt’s co-star Logan Lerman, seeing as Fury is quite unbelievably The Perks of Being a Wallflower with a tank instead of Emma Watson.Set in April 1945, the war is nearly over. “Wardaddy” (Pitt) leads his tank (called “Fury”) and its crew across German land, barging through villages and shooting what looks like lasers but are actually tracer bullets. His team are a gang of dysfunctional, one-note men consisting of macho caricature “Coon-Ass” (Jon Bernthal), religious insomniac “Bible” (Shia LaBeouf) and hat-enthusiast “Gordo” (Michael Peña). They communicate in barely intelligible words and insults – so much so that I often could barely work out the dialogue. I’m also going to assume they weren’t exchanging anything particularly illuminating, given how Fury is really a two-hander between Pitt’s “Wardaddy” and Lerman’s Norman Ellison. The latter is a typist with only eight weeks’ experience in the army who, for some reason, becomes the tank’s new assistant driver. He’s like the new boy at school, except it’s the worst school imaginable and the summer’s definitely going to end in some manner.Ayer’s script establishes “Wardaddy” as a tutor for Norman in terms of how to execute Germans, how to sleep with terrified local women, and how to brainwash yourself into believing a tank is a home. Aside from the tank, Fury is an explosion of cliches that turns the horrors of war into an inconsistent mess (the ending, especially) with a disturbing use of “angelic” imagery regarding dead women as emotional props. One uncomfortable scene sees the pair invade a house with two cowering females inside; an unspoken threat of sexual violence lingers as “Wardaddy” barks instructions about omelettes at the women – they and Pitt are “Hollywood” beautiful with perfect hair and makeup – and eventually forces Norman to get some “action” in the bedroom. Yet somehow both men emerge as the moral signifiers in the film, especially when Fury enters a bewildering third act that’s the war equivalent of Bad News Bears in terms of implausibility.’Fury’ is playing London Film Festival 2014 as part of the Closing Night Gala. More information can be found here.