A tale told, full of sound and fury, signifying little
As its tank tracks crawl through familiar battle-ravaged WWII territory, Fury is authentically dirty and unflinchingly brutal but ultimately struggles to distinguish itself beyond the claustrophobic confines of its metal beasts.Writer/director David Ayer has had a tough time of it graduating to the Hollywood A-list, with far too many compromises being made along the way – after penning Training Day he struggled through one corrupt cop / gang violence film after the other all the way up to and including the flawed Schwarzenegger thriller, Sabotage, which was mutilated by studios to halve his originally 3-hour vision (which, itself, was likely far from perfect).
Fury wasn't molested in quite the same way (indeed it blasts past the 2 hour mark with signs of incompetent editing, particularly evident from its jarringly appalling score) but it was still tinkered-with; given a latter-end budget boost, with requests for ‘more action scenes’ being made at the behest of the Studios.Undoubtedly it is still a strong and worthwhile effort, with some committed cast performances and a slew of tense action sequences which are shot superbly, holding together its near-epic runtime. For a film called ‘Fury’ there certainly is plenty of that on offer, with every grenade, shell, or rifle round hitting home, and death waiting just around the corner for each and every soldier; glory secured only in bloody battle.
Pitt commands the piece, and has strong support from a few familiar Ayer faces, as well as some new additions to his fold (although Percy Jackson's Logan Lerman - channelling Christian Slater - is just painful to watch and frequently derails the piece), but the film ultimately belongs to the battle tank that the poor souls trudge around in.
The tank – which is their home – is a dirty, grimy shell, which looks like it might shake apart at any instant, but, when used effectively, it is a deadly weapon and a much-needed shield against the enemy. It is certainly a character in and of itself – the selling point for the feature as much as Ayer and Pitt, since it is the main attraction which distinguishes Fury from its Private Ryan brethren.
Fury attempts to do for battle tanks what Hunt for Red October did for subs, but, beyond its impressive action sequences, fails to deliver a cohesive, original - or memorable - whole.
The story is set at the end of WWII. As the war draws to a close, a ragtag, battle-weary band of brothers – the tank crew in the metal beast that they call ‘Fury’ – find themselves on the front line once again, surrounded by the enemy on all sides, and fighting for their lives. Taking on a new recruit, we follow the crew on one of their toughest days in the war, fighting an enemy that simply refuses to surrender.
Ultimately, Fury delivers some substance beyond the confines of its tank but it is little that we simply have not seen before, and oftentimes done better. Its depiction of the bloody battlefield is authentic and effective, but the real sparks of the true horrors of war unfold not on these muddy staging fronts but actually at the dining table, where the scarred - both physically and psychologically - soldiers are given room to finally breathe. Unfortunately these moments are few and far between, largely eschewed in favour of more action please. With a more assured filmmaker and less Studio interference, this may have been a very different beast, defined by memorable moments like those, rather than reliant upon the action to bluntly drive its messages home. As is, it's got legs - or tracks - largely thanks to Pitt-in-a-tank, but it could have been so much more.
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