Monday, October 20, 2014

[Review] Fury

"Fury" seems like quite the undistinguished and forgettable title for a big, Oscar season World War II film starring Brad Pitt, but when you see that word painted across the main gun of the tank in which this close-knit group of soldiers spend the majority of their time in while fighting to the brink of death, it begins to make more sense.

It's the year 1945 in Nazi-occupied Germany. The film opens in an obliterated battlefield, where an entire American platoon has been wiped out except for Sgt. Don Collier (Pitt), a tank commander, along with the three remaining members of his crew. It goes without saying that we're not in for a feel-good movie.

Don is hard-nosed and ruthless. His face is worn and his eyes have seen better days. There's an underlying sense of despair within him when he's not in front of his men. Boyd (Shia LaBeouf) is the mustached, spiritual and religious member of the crew. Grady (Jon Bernthal) is more of the archetypal unhinged tough guy, and anyone who has seen "The Walking Dead" knows that Bernthal is incredibly good at that. Trini's (Michael Pena) character is a little flat and appears to be there for the sake of diversity. When the group returns to their base, a new young, baby-faced scared mouse kid enters the picture. Norman (Logan Lerman) is just a typist and he isn't trained for battle. The film never fully justifies why he, out of all people, is suddenly forced to take part in steering a tank, but his character is a significant piece within dynamics of the group and it adds an emotional pull. From here on out, it's them doing what their trained to do: kill Germans.

Within the stark settings and drab colors, Fury depicts the horrors of war as hell on earth, physically and mentally. Hills of dead bodies are pushed around like they're garbage, people get burned alive, chunks of blown off faces stick to the tank's control panel, soldiers are put in the position to kill children. "Wait 'til you see what men can do," Grady says. The brutal graphics are shown with immense, disheartening detail.

There's no doubt about the intensity and dread the film propels. Sometimes it's so severe that it might put knots in your stomach. The camerawork, often functioning from the close viewpoints of the characters, immerses you into the action as bullets fly and bombs explode. In an odd break from the action, the narrative's pile-driving momentum is halted in the midsection during a prolonged scene when Don and Norman enter the home of two German women and make them cook breakfast. It's a scene that unfolds in a Tarantino-like manner. It feels a bit awkwardly placed, but at the same time, it introduces a different sort of tension and conflict.

Philosophical dialogue is delivered throughout the script, and the acting from everyone involved is stellar. Even Shia LaBeouf, who is a tad unpredictable and a bit difficult to take serious in films nowadays, turns in an impressive performance. And of course, Brad Pitt accelerates as the lead. It has kind of come to the point where we simply expect Pitt to be great, no matter what role he's in, and he definitely doesn't let down here.

Even though it has a tough duty in living up to WWII films of the past, Fury still really sticks with you, and the final frame is one hell of a shot.


No comments:

Post a Comment