Fury (2014): April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
I really don't know how to start this review. So we are just going to go with it! My name is Joe, and I'm going to talk about Fury. This movie.....this movie goes for it all. I mean talk about a movie reaching for the stars. This movie is without a doubt the most brutally realistic war movie I have ever seen. Through two acts of its 134 minute runtime, Fury does an incredibly powerful and effective job showcasing the horrors of war. It's gripping, suspenseful, and had me on the edge of my seat and ready for the climatic final battle between the Allies and the Nazis. But then the third act happens. The third act not only derails this movie, it almost ruins it completely. However the key word there is almost. Fury is an effective movie ultimately, but it was attempting to achieve legendary status. It does not reach this title because of its final 30 minutes. Damnit.
So, here's what the movie gets right. The movie is well acted, with everyone completely immersing themselves in their roles. Brad Pitt, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman (yes, from Perks of Being a Wallflower) and the one and only Shia LeBeouf all do a fantastic job as the members of the tank known as Fury. And laugh all you want at the notion that LeBouf is in this, but he was actually outstanding here, putting in the most down-to-earth and well-acted performance of his career. Sure his character was essentially Private Jackson from Saving Private Ryan minus the sniper, but that's ok because that was my favorite character in that movie too. The effects are phenomenal, and the sound design is even better. The score is fantastic though a bit over-dominating at times, but the crescendos for the Germans are some of the best I've heard all year. Additionally the overarching theme of despair among the Allies despite being only a hundred or so miles from Berlin really sets the tone for the entire movie. Many war movies will show scenes of the final days of the European campaign and show everyone in high spirits as the war is about to come to end, but I think it's safe to say that that was not the case. After all, Hitler had declared total war in Germany in the final months, and the SS was doing some pretty terrifying things. And having this theme of despair and the horrors of war makes many scenes in this movie very brutal. This movie is brutally gruesome, but not just for the sake of being gruesome. The movie is showcasing the horrors of war. Because of this, many scenes in this movie can be pretty hard to watch, even to a guy such as myself who is pretty desensitized to violence at this point. So I will warn you: this movie is absolutely not for the feint of heart. Finally, the movie is initially well written. There is an incredibly tense meal scene in the second act that throws off the initial and pace of the movie and just keeps going and going. It was like something out of a Tarantino movie because it was so tense because you know at any moment sh*t could hit the fan, and ultimately it led to the most emotional scene of the movie for me. But then the third act happened.
I don't know why all these directors feel they have to have a Saving Private Ryan-style last stand at the end of their war movie, because they are in seemingly every war movie I have ever seen post-SPR. And I don't mind it in SPR, because it was powerful and tied down in realism with many characters you care about dying throughout and not covered in Hollywood BS. But the same cannot be said for director/writer David Ayer's swing at it in Fury. Let me set this up for you, and it's not a spoiler because it's in the trailers: 300 Nazis with anti-tank weapons and vehicles versus 5 Allies in a tank out in the open that cannot move. Should be a battle that lasts about 3 seconds right? Nah. Let's make the Germans have the intelligence of Napoleon at Waterloo and make it last 30 minutes because how else are we going to put in a big budget action sequence? All the tension and realism is completely removed in the third act as the Germans literally stand out in the open and shoot at the tank with their little machine guns so they can get mowed down by the tank. I mean it was ridiculous. The Germans couldn't hit the tank at point blank range with their anti-tank guns and even with the element of surprise. I mean I've long accepted that the bad guys in action movies are going to have stormtrooper accuracy but I think that even a stormtrooper could hit a stationary target the size of a small semi truck from 5 feet away with the element of surprise. At one point during this "battle" the German captain delivers a pump-up speech to his men as they get ready to attack the tank head on again, and I legitimately lost it in the theater. I mean, let's take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of one of those soldiers. Ok captain! I appreciate the speech, but why don't we just hit the tank with explosives? NO WE CAN'T DO THAT! THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE! ATTACK THE TANK HEAD-ON AGAIN WITH YOUR MACHINE GUNS IT SHOULD WORK EVENTUALLY! Now I'm not spoiling the ending because yes things eventually happen and they lead to other things with more things on top of it, and I'm not going to tell you what these things are. Those moments are just in the scenes leading up to some of those other things. But by the time the other things started happening, I no longer really cared. David Ayers had successfully taken me from the edge of my seat to checking my watch waiting for the movie to end all in about 15 minutes. That is truly an accomplishment, so kudos to Mr. Ayers.
Oh ya and the one other major complaint I had was with Logan Lerman's character. His story initially was very interesting, as I definitely connected with him as he is horrified by all the different sights of war. However, I don't think a typist would ever be assigned to a tank squad, so the fact that there isn't even a sentence explaining why this happened bothered me.This was a little gimmicky, and then his character transforms throughout the movie just a little too rapidly for me to fully buy it. However were it not for the final act of the movie, this would be my only complaint about Fury. Which is such a shame because in the first two acts this movie reaches the stars. It is powerful, emotional, and gripping for 100 minutes. But why, David Ayer, WHY? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE YOUR BIG BUDGET ACTION SEQUENCE BE COVERED IN HOLLYWOOD BS? We will never know. All I know is if the third act was better we would have a movie that flirts with perfection. Instead, we are left with a movie that is above average in my book. And now I'm sad. And going to go watch Saving Private Ryan again.
The Critique: Two acts of nitty gritty realism that would have made this the most brutally realistic army movie to date. And one act that shreds it all apart.
The Recommendation: Not for the feint of heart, only watch this if you want to watch an incredibly realistic war picture. And even still, temper your expectations because you will be disappointed by this infamous third act.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
Oscar Talk: I do see some nominations in store for Fury. Probably nods to Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. But that's about it.
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