Fury tells the story of a five man Sherman crew nearing the end of the second world war, and marks a detour for David Ayer the director and screen writer who usually feels more at home writing and directing US cop based action thrillers than historical films. Indeed Ayer’s last foray into historical grounds (U571) had so many problems that the then president of the United States issued an apology to the then Prime Minister of England due to how innacurate it was.
So it was with some trepidation that I saw down to watch Fury as an avid fan of WW2 films, and feeling the genre was lacking since the days of Saving Private Ryan. That trepidation was, however, quickly removed and replaced with genuine enjoyment. The film sits itself firmly in the realms of accuracy, to such an extent that a large quantity of the tanks used are surviving tanks cared and looked after by museums in the UK, including the worlds only working Tiger Tank.
The performances of the cast are solid with Brad Pitt as ” Wardaddy” and Logan Lerman as “Norman Ellison” as the stand outs, although you are never sure if this is because they get the best writing or because they genuinely steal the show. The one shortfall of Ayer’s script is that the other three tankers in the form of LaBeouf (“Bible”), Pena (“Gordo”) and Bernthal (“Coon Ass”) are left as two dimensional characters whom we learn almost nothing about and, in many cases, struggle to ever like. This makes the final scenes of the film much harder to care about.
It seems surprising that a film set in the claustrophobic interior of a Sherman tank can fail to flesh out all its cast, but somehow it does. While you get a glimpse into all the characters, their personalities and inner struggles it is only Pitt and Lerman whose characters get any real arc as the film trundles on.
And trundle on it does, successfully capturing the reality of war, long periods of emptiness peppered with moments of extreme action and violence. Eschewing the use of hand held cams and first person perspective, Fury is shot like an epic of old; great panning wide angled shots that really show off not only the sets but the meticulous attention to detail on the 6th star of the film, the tanks.
Ultimately a lot of the hard work of the film is undone in its final twenty minutes. When the crew of Fury take on an SS battalion, with the germans reduced to dying in droves as Fury chews through them like so many pieces of popcorn. This almost undoes the painstaking realism and attention to detail built up throughout the rest of the film and reeks of “Merica” that until now the film had been utterly devoid of.
Despite some shortcomings, Fury was a very enjoyable film and one I cannot wait to see it on Blu Ray the day it is released.