The relentless barrage of heavy-handedness in David Ayer’s Second World War tank drama Fury begins immediately. A horseman approaches on the grim horizon of a foggy, corpse-strewn battlefield. Out of the muck leaps a man who pulls the rider down and bludgeons him in the eye.
Ayer wants to make it clear from the start that he’s making a film about the brutality of war.
Into Germany rumbles Sgt Don Collier (Brad Pitt) and his M4 Sherman tank. With “Fury” scrawled on its gun and a claustrophobic group of bickering soldiers within, the tank is a killing machine, as are its hardened inhabitants.
The cast – Shia LaBeouf as the gunner, Jon Bernthal as the loader, Michael Pena as the driver – work to show the darkness that has settled behind their eyes after years of war.
Pitt’s commander is a tough, even cruel, boss. “We’re not here for right and wrong,” says Pitt. “We’re here to kill.”
The romance of “the greatest generation” has been drained away, leaving only the harsh realities of war and perhaps a more honest view of what it does to men.
But Fury is not a realistic movie. It’s an “unflinching” account of war – “unflinching,” in quotes, because every moment of the film is composed to grind your face into the muck and be proud of itself for doing so.
Since this grisly verisimilitude is the point of Fury, it ought to have considered drawing from real events for its story or central battle. Instead, it culminates in a lengthy, against-the-odds fight that has more in common with the movie 300 than the Second World War.
The balance of the movie feels off, suggesting Ayer, who wrote and directed, may have intended a much longer cut of the film. The drama of the pure-Hollywood ending is weakened because the stories of the men haven’t been articulated.
For a better Second World War tank thriller, look to Zoltan Korda’s Sahara. Made in 1943, it may have been propaganda, but its aim was truer than Fury’s pseudo-realism.
Director: David Ayer Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman Two stars (see more at : http://www.thenational.ae)