A Trip To The Movies – Review: ‘Fury’ 10.25.14

I’ve grown quite find of Brad Pitt as an actor in the last almost decade or so. So much so that I consider him to be one of the top 3 best working actors in the business. If you think about the list of directors and performances he’s put in over the past 8-10 years or so there’s really nothing you can do but just admire the guy.  Since 2006 he’s worked with Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu in “Babel” (a film he would go onto pick up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for), Andrew Dominik in 2007’s “The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (still one of my favorite Pitt performances), both the Coen Brothers and David Fincher in “Burn After Reading” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2008, to Quentin Taratino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (2009), to 2011’s 1-2 punch of both Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” (the latter of which would see him garnering his first Best Actor nomination), to working with Dominik again in 2012’s “Killing Them Softly”, to Marc Forster in last year’s highly entertaining and surprisingly very good “World War Z”. And finally topping it off the same year with a small but memorable role in Steve McQueen’s Best Picture Oscar winner “12 Years a Slave” (which he would also win his first ever Oscar for Producing). Pitt has gone on to reach such a status in my eyes that at this point in his career I will simply see a film solely based on the fact that he’s in it. And I can only say that about a very few actors.

David Ayer’s “Fury” follows a lot of the same movie tropes as a lot of American made War films. It involves a group of ragtag soldiers who are part of a tank unit led by Pitt. The group is deep in German territory at the height of the Second World War. Where at the point depicted in the film, the Germans are taking the upper hand. Pitt and this ragtag group of soldiers (including an always reliable Michael Pena and Shia LeBeouf, an actor who at least in my eyes, is gaining quite of credibility since his “Transformers” days). Their tank comes under fire and it’s on the brink of breaking down, only for Pitt and his company to escape and then meet up with whatever little reserves that are left where they wind up geographically in the heart of Nazi Germany. One of their men faces an untimely death, and they’re forced to take on a young, inexperienced, and afraid soldier named Norman (Logan Lerman), with little to no combat experience as his replacement. Essentially the rest of the film is shown through the eyes of him as Pitt, his company, and “Fury” (the name of their tank) as they try and take over one town to the next in a series of truly visceral and epic battle scenes. In fact, this movie contains some of the best scenes of war, particularly that of tank warfare, that I’ve seen since the all too often overlooked and underappreciated 2007 film “Lebanon”. A film about another group of soldiers confined to a tank with no way out other than to fight for their lives.

I found myself totally captivated by this film and thought the war scenes and depictions of battle to me were not only thrilling but top notch. It’s essentially a series of one battle after the next depicted in the utmost intense and and sense of realism. It really nails the horrors of war and while I’ve heard one of the criticisms of the piece is that it’s simply too violent, I didn’t find myself necessarily finding that to be the case. It’s violent because this was a violent period in history where the lives of many men were lost. My second accolade has to do with Pitt’s performance itself. It’s reminiscent of old classic Hollywood actors like a John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart. So much so that at times I thought of Bogart’s 1943 War film “Sahara”. Where even though you know he is being depicted as this pro-American, patriotic, and mentally and physically strong leader. If like with that film you are able to overlook the stereotypes of the characters (which were intentional then and intention here) behind it you’ll see yet another bravura Brad Pitt performance. He totally envelops himself in the character which I found to be not only completely convincing but effective as well. Sure some of the men in his unit, specifically that of Pena and the other Hispanic man feel like blatient stereotypes. However I was able to overlook this because of the incredibly captivating scenes of tank warfare that had both me and the entire almost sold out audience I saw it with highly entertained, challenged, and brought on a visceral action packed thrill ride. Complete with what I found to be a brilliant closing shot “Fury” is one of those big budget, at first seemingly run-of-the-mill crop of American War films that turns out to be something much greater than it should have been.

[B+]

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A Trip To The Movies – Review: ‘Fury’ 10.25.14

  1. “Fury” B here. Similar grade to yours and thought alot of the same things. Slightly different take and approach on life inside a tanker unit during WWII. Solid performances throughout, especially that of the Michael Cena, Lebouf and the other hick. Pitt solid casting as well. Slightly long and could have been chopped by about 20-30 minutes to gain a maximum effect on the audience I believe. In particular the scene where Pitt meets the two girls in their German house, felt like it was a half hour long and probably could have been chopped to about 5 minutes. Alot of the war torn elements of the filnm reminded me of Polanski’s “The Pianist”, solid flick and it seems like Pitt is making all the right moves late in his Hollywood career.

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  2. Yeah I was thoroughly impressed by this film which actually came as quite of a surprise as I didn’t necessarily have the highest of expectations for it. But even sandwiched in his more indie friendly work (“The Tree of Life”, “”Killing Them Softly”) Brad Pitt continues to pick smart and interesting projects even within the studio system (“Moneyball”, “World War Z”). So as like mentioned in my review you really can’t go wrong with the newest “Brad Pitt picture”. I also thought there was a grave misunderstanding on behalf of many people of whom I recommended this to (as you may recall it made my Honorable Mentions list) as being some sort of formulaic, patriotic World War II flick that at least from the feedback I’ve gotten, many people thought was its biggest weakness. However, I thought the filmmakers intenionally were going for an almost old-school Hollywood war picture like the ones from the 1930’s and 40’s starring Humphrey Bogart with Pitt playing to this “old-school” John Wayne/silent type perfectly well. That’s just my opinion but many people can’t seem to or weren’t necessarily able to see that aspect of it. And like mentioned in my review, I loved the visceral quality to the action and proceedings. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “tank warfare” combat movie this expertly photographed since the Lebanose film “Lebanon”. It brought the viewer right there into the tank so that they could experience first hand what these characters went through. I like your “Pianist” comnparison even if it didn’t come to mind as a reference point while watching it I certainly can draw a correlation between the 2 films. Lastly, while I agree with you about the apartment scene involving the 2 German women in that that segment could have been trimmed down I thought the underlying subtext was integral there in relation to the character development. Showing Pitt and his new recruit having a more sensitive side only to be discovered by his fellow comrades and he somewhat comes to the realization that war is war and that supercedes anything else. As the men act in a very uncivil, almost dispecable manner, but Pitt knows that these are his band of brothers even despite their flaws and puts to rest aside whatever intentions he has with the 2 women. Realizing that they are more of a distraction and putting into light their true task at hand. I’m glad you finally got around to watching it and seemed to find it to be another solid entry into the list of WWII films with yet another amazing performance by the Pitt man himself who at this point in his career, really seems like he can do no wrong.

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