Review: FURY (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: FURY (2014)

FURY is grisly and well-acted, if clichéd WWII movie.


There are plenty of war movies in the past that involved army tank, and one such movie that I fondly remembered was the 1970's PATTON -- the Oscar-winning WWII epic that famously won George C. Scott the Best Actor award for his memorable role as General George S. Patton. It's nice to see an old-fashioned WWII tank movie made a comeback this year with FURY. The movie also marked writer-director David Ayer's first war genre since 2000's U-571 (in which he's only in charge as one of the screenwriters) and a refreshing detour from his usual gritty cop drama offerings.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Set in the closing days of World War II on April 1945 in Germany, FURY centres on a tight-knit crew of a M4 Sherman tank led by the no-nonsense Sgt. "Wardaddy" Don Collier (Brad Pitt) and his men, including deeply religious gunner Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LaBeouf), tough loader Grady "Coon Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal), and Mexican driver Trini "Gordo" Garcia (Michael Pena). After losing their fifth member, they are replaced by a young and inexperienced Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a trained typist who is now assigned to be Don's new gunner. At the beginning, Norman has a tough time trying to adapt with the pressure-cooker scenario in a war-torn zone, as well as occasionally being bullied by Grady most of the time. However, Don eventually forces Norman to toughen up like a real soldier as they headed for a mission to Berlin.

THE GOOD STUFF
 
From the technical standpoint, Ayer knows well about making an uncompromisingly violent WWII movie that is as hardcore as the one he has done in his past cop dramas. The action sequences, including the one involving tank battles, are shockingly brutal that Ayer doesn't shy away when comes to the gruesome depiction of casualties, such as heads being blown off. Equally noteworthy as well is Roman Vasyanov's atmospheric cinematography that evokes a sense of gritty realism during the war-torn Germany, while Steven Price's score is both affecting and rousing enough for a WWII movie.

Brad Pitt delivers a satisfying mix of rugged charm and engaging performance as Sgt. Don "Wardaddy" Collier, which is akin to his role as Lt. Aldo Raine in Quentin Tarantino's WWII epic INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2007). Except the difference is, Pitt's character here feels significantly toned down and more emotionally complex. The supporting cast including Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal and Michael Pena are equally credible. Logan Lerman, on the other hand, shines a lot with his captivating performance as Norman Ellison.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The intense battle between a M4 Sherman tank and a German Tiger tank in the open field. 

THE BAD STUFF
  
Despite the solid displays of heart-pounding action and strong acting performances, it's a pity that Ayer's script falters most of the time. First, the story feels shopworn where no clichés left unturned about the typical depiction of war. Then there's the melodramatic moments, particularly the long-winded middle part involving Don and Norman are seeking R&R in an apartment resided by two German women (Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg). While it can be a good thing to see a director slows down the pace for some quieter moments after a series of gory kills, the particular scene doesn't really add much to the movie other than making the pace unnecessarily sluggish.

FINAL WORDS

It's hardly a WWII classic or even the kind of Oscar-baiting material that I hoped for this war movie, especially given for all the talents involved here. But as a mainstream entertainment, FURY remains a gripping WWII picture worth watching for.

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