Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia Labeouf, Logan Lerman
Directed by: David Ayer (“End of Watch”)
Written by: David Ayer (“End of Watch”)
In “Fury,” we are introduced to the crew of a World War II tank called Fury led by Staff Sergeant Don Collier (Brad Pitt). When they are sent on a mission that leaves them against all odds, they are forced with a decision to continue forth and make a stand or to get away. Like Ayer’s previous film “End of Watch,” it is gritty in its portrayal of violence and danger. Unlike “End of Watch,” however, it doesn’t quite build the relationships and deeper meaning that it sets out to.
In recent years, Pitt has shown himself to be a strong lead actor and that is evident in “Fury.” It certainly isn’t as meaty of a role as Billy Beane in “Moneyball” but Pitt is able to run away with his screen time as the man in charge of the tank. Most of the actors, in fact, elevate the material with their fine performances with Shia Labeouf and Jon Bernthal in particular standing out as well defined characters and performances. Logan Lerman’s character makes sense in context, but he remains the weakest performer in the cast adding little to the somewhat played out character type of the reluctant and innocent young soldier thrust into battle.
“Fury” does indeed shows the horrors of war, especially in scenes where they must indoctrinate Lerman’s character to his surroundings, but the general camaraderie of those within the tank feels undercooked and sold short. There is also the case of a severely underwritten screenplay from director and writer David Ayer. While his actors deliver the script deftly, nothing ever really scratches the surface beyond general war movie clichés. Most troubling is a section in the middle of the film where Pitt and Lerman commandeer a room in a building and attempt to create some level of a normal life. It is clear what Ayer is trying to attempt with this scene, but it goes on for what feels like about half an hour (and it may very well be) and never really pays off. It’s certainly an odd decision and use of time.
Where “Fury” is able to succeed is in its character designs on a very general level and in its action sequences. There are a few battle scenes (two in particular, one involving two tanks facing off against each other and one standoff) that are able to build tension and show the intensity of war. Unfortunately for the film, any time it attempts to dig below the surface, it comes up empty. Even when characters deviate from their archetypes, they seem sudden and unearned. It isn’t the kiss of death, as the characterizations, performances and action sequences are enough to make the film entertaining enough, but the film as a whole feels completely underdeveloped.