Director: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal
Running Time: 135 minutes
Release Date: October 24th
Brad Pitt. World War II. Killing Nazis. Sharp haircut. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Its star and the Western inspired story are probably where comparisons between Fury and Inglorious Basterds ends. Tarantino’s fantasy-war movie was a self-confessed version of The Dirty Dozen, with Fury, David Ayer has gone full Rio Bravo. (Incidentally, Ayer’s next movie, DC comic property, The Suicide Squad, is going to be his Dirty Dozen flick.)
Taking place in the last month of WWII, Fury sees Pitt’s Wardaddy, a Sergeant in charge of the titular tank, lead his four-man squadron into battle, facing their own personal Alamo within the confines of an M4 Sherman. On his crew, there’s a religious guy (LaBeouf), new guy (Lerman), volatile guy (Bernthal) and Hispanic guy (Peña). It’s a simple set up, and it mostly works.
Ayer isn’t one for subtlety or subtext in his movies, he likes tough guys in tougher situations. This is a man who re-wrote the history of the Enigma Code as an American discovery; reason or historical accuracy are of no importance. Still, Fury delivers thrills in spades. The representation of war gorges on the horror genre for some grotesque moments — Lerman’s first job is mopping up the last guy’s face off the seat, heads explode on impact and bodies are flattened like a nightmare Looney Toons cartoon. It borders on the cartoonish — tracer ammo making fire fights look like Star Wars, anyone? — yet enough legwork is done to make you care about the guys inside that metal bucket.
Pitt and Lerman are given the most, and as a result are the highlights. A dinner scene at the midway point has the chance to derail it all but is surprisingly brilliant, giving them moments to shine. Lerman nails the I’m-not-even-supposed-to-be-here nature of his meek typist who gets dumped in a pool of testosterone and told to swim. Pitt’s charisma and tank-oil slicked hair is the kind that would make you head straight into your death and feel you’ve made the right choice. The supporting cast fall into stereotypes but all get their bit. LaBeouf’s Bible surprisingly comes without fanfare or ego, and is a nice reminder that he’s still an actor.
Ayer handles the action adroitly, both inside and out of the tank, and his set piece handling make you wonder what he can do on an even larger. It gives off a huge wallop of both hung-ho America and biting war nihilism, their mantra for dwelling in a tank and killing Germans is “best job I ever had” is tonally confusing. All same, you can’t help but forget it in the clatter of tank missiles and gun fire.