The tank is basically a mini submarine with wheels set on land, and generally, as far as I am aware, a war machine that has generally been overlooked in Hollywood. Logic dictates this is probably due to filming logistics in incredibly cramped spaces, yes submarines are cramped but they are much larger than a tank, a four to five man truck of death. I am glad that FURY was the first tank film I have seen, because it has set a benchmark that I will never forget. FURY is an incredibly horrific, realistic, gritty look at the horror of World War Two and the awful brutality of man. It is out this Thursday 23rd October from Sony Pictures Australia, it is rated MA15+ and runs for a spellbinding 134mins.
FURY is the name of one tank out of thousands towards the end of World War Two, the end is coming, it is inevitable but the Germans fight relentlessly in their defeat. Fury has been a long lasting tank, it has seen many battles and it’s commander, it’s leader, Don aka Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) has promised to keep his men alive. The U.S. tanks are nowhere as good as the German tanks and the allies are incredibly outgunned in the tank field. Sadly, Wardaddy, and the Fury crew just lost its backup driver and gunman. His replacement is a fresh-off-the-boat, young kid (Norman), who is a skilled typist. He should never have seen war but is sent to the Fury crew. The Fury crew must harden him up to the corrosiveness and soul destroying life in the war and they must do it quick to keep themselves alive.
Simply this film is a slice of life, 24hrs in the tank with a crew. It is fictional but more realistic than most. It could have been any of the 88000+ U.S. tanks that entered WW2. These men are at the end of their tether, they are all different in character but all the same through camaraderie and the shared bond of disaster and death. This is where the film hooked me in every way. There is basically no back story to these people, it is no SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, while you do want to know more about Wardaddy, or Norman, or the rest of the crew, Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Gordo (Michael Peña) and Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) you know there is no time and you are one of the crew along for the ride, you have 24hrs with these guys (shortened to 134mins) and you get what you can and in this 24hrs you love these guys!
FURY preaches little, has no heroes or decent heroic types, it discusses religion and the war but it has no side in the debate. It shows you multiple viewpoints, and lays them out without resolution. In your big Hollywood films you will have an asshole pick a fight, asshole will actually be a nice guy just depressed and then an entire resolution will need to happen with the good guy to show redemption and cause. In Fury nope, Coon-Ass is a dickhead, treats Norman like shit, the end. I loved this, it was real. Brad Pitt is what you may call the “hero” of the film, but he is also a killer and while he cares for his crew, he shows Norman how to fit in the most horrendous way possible, he knows it is horrendous but he wants to keep Norman, and his crew, alive.
From go to woe this film grabs you by the privates and lifts you off the ground. It is relentless in what it does and shows. It shows you hideous deaths and the darkness and depravity of humanity, some scenes I was shocked, others I shed a tear. But what made it great to witness on the film, it doesn’t apologise or feel guilt for showing it and it doesn’t really show “goodies” or “baddies” – it shows two different cultures there to kill each other.
This film has my win for the best ensemble acting out of the planet this year. Pitt is solid, powerful and his skill as a leader is impressive. He is a comfort actor, you just know you will enjoy his performance. He gets better with age. Lerman gives the best performance of his life, he has come a long way from PERCY JACKSON. I love his work and his performance in THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was remarkable but this time he acted with Pitt, LaBeouf and others and he matched them for screen presence. It did help that the tortured Wardaddy was crumbling after years of destruction and really did become a father figure for Norman, but never coddled, baptised in fire. I do believe we will see Lerman with a best supporting actor nod for this film.
Shia LaBeouf is remarkable, also one of his best performances. LaBeouf is a method actor, he is batshit crazy but he is a remarkable performer. Pitt described him as one of the best actors he has worked with. If you look at the list of people Pitt has worked with, praise does not come much higher. And after LaBeouf’s insane over the top antics of recent times he claims this film has “saved him.” As part of his method acting, LaBeouf had to study religion and it got into him, he claims to have fully found god and it has put him on a better track. Good on him, as long as we see him acting these serious roles I am in. On a downside, I feel for the other crew, for his acting style for this character he did not wash for the entire shoot and pulled his own teeth out. His eyes are also perpetually watering, this annoyed my guest to last night’s screening as he found it “whiney,” I found it a condition based on a life of watching death for years.
The other crew are solid, Peña does what Peña does and it appears Bernthal is going to be typecast for his ashhole redneck dickhead character that started in THE WALKING DEAD. The good news is this time he takes it to the next level and is brilliant. I was sad to see my fave Aussie actor Xavier Samuel have such a small role, I am wondering if he wanted a tank position but his height restricted him. BUT – Harrison Ford had a teeny tiny part in APOCALYPSE NOW so have no fear Xavier.
I believe David Ayer has given us his best movie yet. It is as dark and realistic as TRAINING DAY and END OF WATCH but with more action that the two combined and I also think it is the darkest. Take what he has done in the past and then imagine him making a WW2 movie and taking his skillset to another, higher level….there you have FURY. Best thing, he also wrote the thing. He made the film more like what it was than what a cinema audience from Hollywood would like. There is a towards-the-end-scene with Lerman facing off with a young German SS soldier and it was just remarkable, at first I was like “WTF??” but the more I have thought about it the more I have loved it. Also, huge credit to one of the best dinner table scenes in the history of movies. More tension in that one scene than half the films released this year.
And before I close the other major winning character in this film was the score and sound effects. The score by Steven Price reminded me a bit of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER with that German (or Russian in October) choral power of song – regimental and strong. It gave a sense of history, slight evil and darkness but also pride and brotherhood. Price is fresh from an Oscar for his composition for GRAVITY and I see another Oscar gong coming his way. Add to that the incredible war sounds and bombing effects from the sound department that will literally rattle your teeth with their tremendous bass the film is complete.
If you love war movies, if you love a “family” of brothers in a tight situation or you want to see one of the heaviest action packed films of the year with acting that is sublime then get your ass to see this one ASAP. Go for the biggest, loudest cinema you can find. I will see this again in a cinema and it will join the Salty Blu Ray shelf.
I would like to end with a quote:
War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.