Movie Review: Fury (2014 – Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf)

Another World War II revisit but with added depth to the usual “right or wrong” subjects, depicted through horrific visuals and intense acting

Miss Brad Pitt’s performance as Lieutenant Aldo “The Apache” Raine in Inglourious Basterds (2009)? Well he’s back at war as an anti-Nazi soldier again, but this time with an emotionally heavier role in a seemingly more realistic portrayal of the war, and he nailed it, along with the rest of the main cast of rather well-known actors. Along with a tight screenplay and direction by David Ayer, (who directed and written one of my favourite 2012 films, End of Watch) Fury is perhaps one of the strongest war films to be reckoned with in recent years.

Every tank in every war had people and its own story, this one’s about Fury, a five-man M4 Sherman tank consisting of Boyd “Bible” Swan (played by Shia LaBeouf, who’s most known for his Sam Witwicky role in the Transformers films), Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal, who was from the first seasons of the zombie TV series The Walking Dead), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena, the other leading actor in End of Watch) and led by the highly experienced commander Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt, recently starred in World War Z and the Oscar-winner 12 Years a Slave), all of whom have gone through years in this war and have had multiple close calls together.

After Don lost one of his men, newly enlisted young typist Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman, who we knew could act in Butterfly Effect before growing up to disappoint in the Percy Jackson films) is assigned to Fury as a replacement. While taking on missions of unfavourable odds to help win the war at the Nazi’s turf in Germany, Don and his crew must find ways to keep themselves constantly sane, calm and brutal, and at the same time, get the nervy Norman to fit in and sink in before he cost any life, and learn to pull the trigger and kill any Nazi soldier even when it seems wrong to him to do so.

Logan Lerman and Brad Pitt in Fury movie still meme troy

Fury is a spot on example to why war films might have to be at least 3 hours long. The last star-studded of the similar genre was The Monuments Men, which was released earlier this year, but it’s actually not often that we’d get so many big names together in one. The main cast gave a very compelling and intense performance, but due lack of time, there’s no proper development for their roles that obviously could go much deeper than allowed screen time. And that proves to be essential for this film in the epic final act where it all boils down to the tank’s last stand because it required that emotional attachment to create the ideal impact. Not enough good moments between the soldiers are shown, or hardships that they gone through together, as though they’ve just met and don’t care much for each other, so what should the viewers care if anything happens to them?

The other slight disappointments of this film is its cliched ending and the cheating cinematography of the otherwise entertaining action sequences where there are mostly close-ups and the entire battlefield are vaguely shown. So it may be quite visually confusing to see why the soldiers are firing here or risking their lives running over there, etc. However, David Ayer did a fantastic job depicting the raw, ugly and brutal norms of the war in a slightly more graphic approach (although not necessarily accurate), while also delivering decent arguments of thought-provoking subjects such as the rights and wrongs, causality, religion and hypocritical sides of armies.

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What I would’ve named the film: “Inglourious Basterds: The Apache’s True Story” or “Where’s Captain America When You Need Him?”

Censorship in Malaysia: Violence graphic, vulgar and has quotes from the bible but none of that were censored for the media screening held at TGV 1 Utama. It could be that the local film censorship board was feeling lazy, or TGV Pictures ignored the release instructions. Either way, I can never see how censorship neglect is a bad thing.

Second opinion: Went to the screening alone this time so I shall quote some of the early reviews I saw – “Fury is a war movie with balls of steel and marbles for brains (Geoff Pevere, Globe & Mail)”; “War is hell. That’s entertainment, folks (Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald)”.

Verdict: One of the best serious war films in recent years that actually features a star-studded cast, but it’s probably also one of shortest and most underdeveloped among them.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Fury 2014 movie poster malaysiaGenre: War action drama
Running Time: 135 minutes
Director-writer: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena, Jason Isaacs

Malaysia Release Date: 23 October 2014
Rated: 18
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Le Grisbi Productions, QED International, LStar Capital, Crave Films

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