Friday, October 17, 2014

FURY Finds Brad Pitt Back In The Nazi Killing Business

Opening today at a multiplex near you...

FURY (Dir. David Ayer, 2014)

Business is again booming in the Nazi-killin’ business for Brad Pitt, but David Ayer’s World War II epic FURY is more SAVING PRIVATE RYAN than INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.

Pitt plays U.S. Army sergeant Don “War Daddy” Collier, who leads a five-man crew and their Sherman tank (the name “Fury” is crudely painted on its cannon) through the heart of Germany during the dying days of the war in 1945.

Pitt's crew consists of a mustached Shia LaBeouf as Grade Boyd Bible Swan, Michael Peña as Trini Gordo Garcia, Jon Bernthal as Grady Coon-Ass Travis, and Logan Lerman as Private Norman Machine Ellison.

Lerman, as a wet-behind-the-ears Army clerk yanked from his cushy desk job and thrown into battle having never seen the inside of a tank before, is the film's real protagonist. 

It's Lerman's coming-of-age story, not unlike his part as a high school freshman trying to get in with the cool kids in PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, but, you know, obviously under much more extreme conditions.

Basically the plot is Pitt's crew making their way through enemy territory, and getting into violent skirmishes every so often. The combat sequences are incredibly compelling - an open-field showdown with a German Tiger tank especially is a searing set-piece, and an ambush that has a screaming man on fire shooting himself in the head is not something I'll soon forget.

There is a downtime interlude between the battles, in which Pitt and Lerman discover two attractive German women (Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg) hiding in their apartment in a bombed out town that's just been captured by the US troops, and they sit down to have a nice meal, but it gets interrupted by the drunk, rowdiness of their fellow crew members. It's a standout scene that almost feels like it could be a short film on its own.

The chaotic climax, which pits Pitt's crew against 300-strong German army after a mine destroyed one of their tank's treads, is a spectacle of nighttime warfare, impressively captured by cinematograpHer Roman Vasyanov, who also shot director Ayer's great gritty 2012 thriller END OF WATCH.

FURY has so much going for it as WWII film full of bombastic action, blood, and male bonding that I'd definitely recommend it, especially to fans of war films, but I wish it had more character development and more of a layered narrative. 

The 50-year old Pitt is perfectly grizzled for the hard-as-nails part, he looks like he stepped right out of the pages of “Sgt. Rock,” but we learn next to nothing about his character. Lerman has the most fleshed out role among the other's army guy stereotypes (LaBeouf puts in a solid performance, but it was no revelation), but his arc is really standard and predictable. At least Pitt doesn't tell him to “earn this” at the end a la SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. 

In many ways FURY is a war movie like they used to make, except grimmer, less glorified and with a lot more guts - in both definitions of the word.

More later...

1 comment:

Rachel Page said...

So when are we going to see the Germans point of view of the war?