Tuesday, October 14, 2014

“Fury”– Movie Review



This week, The New York Times Film Club held a screening of “Fury”, a war drama starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.


When a tank crew is sent on a mission to battle the Nazis deep in German territory during the end of World War II, will they be able to defeat their troops despite being outmanned and underequipped?


In April of 1945, both Wardaddy (Pitt) and his tank called Fury are a little worse for wear after many battles; he and his crew have been fighting the Nazis in Africa, France and England – finally, they find themselves in Germany, with orders to go behind enemy lines.  Unfortunately, they lost a man in a recent fight and are now forced to train their new man, Norman (Logan Lerman), who’s only been in the army for about two months.  With Norman’s only experience being as a clerk-typist, he’s ill-prepared for the rigors of combat. 

When Norman accompanies Wardaddy and the rest of the tank crew on his first encounter with the enemy, his colleagues come to realize that Norman’s quite a liability.  Immature and something of a pacifist, Norman is both unwilling and unable to shoot at German soldiers.  Seeing that if Norman continues down this path he will endanger everyone in the tank, Wardaddy teaches him how to kill in the most brutal way imaginable; the intense instructions may not necessarily make a man out of Norman but they do wind up turning him into a soldier.  Ultimately, Norman is somewhat mentored by Wardaddy’s corporal, Bible (LaBeouf).  

Wardaddy is given an assignment to locate and rescue some American soldiers who were recently captured by the Nazis.  While en route to their whereabouts, other battles take place where soldiers die due to the superiority of the German tanks; as a result, Fury is the only tank left from that platoon and they must forge ahead alone.  Eventually, Fury breaks down just as a platoon of several hundred SS soldiers are headed their way.  Outnumbered and immobilized with their radio communications wiped out and ammunition running low, will Wardaddy and his crew be able to survive an attack by this platoon?


As a war movie with plenty of fun and suspenseful fight scenes, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with “Fury”; particularly interesting is the use of CGI to simulate the use of tracers during the gunfire exchanges.  That said, however, there’s nothing particularly special about “Fury” either, which means I can only give it a mild recommendation.  Guys will like the action scenes and the ladies will drool over the shirtless Brad Pitt; but whether or not it’s worth up to $15 to see it in a theater may depend on how limited your entertainment choices are. 

Much of the story in “Fury” centers on the character of the neophyte Norman, through whom we as the audience see and learn about war.  Between his education and maturation as a soldier, we are treated to many tank fights with a hint of romance thrown in apparently just to break things up a bit.  Other than that, the movie is fairly flat, plot-wise with very little in the way of momentum driving the story forward; it isn’t until Fury breaks down with the impending arrival of the SS platoon that we feel the stakes have been raised sufficiently to be drawn in emotionally. 

In many ways, “Fury” is less a war story than a coming of age story; not only does Wardaddy teach Norman about how to be a soldier, he also teaches him the nature of war (in order to appreciate peace, whenever it comes) and teaches him about love; in an unlikely moment, Wardaddy introduces Norman to a young Fräulein with whom there is the possibility of a brief romantic interlude.  While governments may send boys into the armed forces, it is men who fight the war; how,when and where that metamorphosis occurs is different for each of us, but clearly war expedites it, sometimes before you’re even ready. 

Fury (2014) on IMDb

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