Friday, October 17, 2014

Movie Review: Fury

America's last "just" war, the most important and destructive event of the twentieth century, however you want to classify the Second World War, there's no denying that it was kind of a big deal. In the decades following  VJ Day, due in part to Soviet paranoia and atomic guilt, American culture has lionized the exploits of our "Greatest Generation" to mythic proportions. You can thank Hollywood for that one. The studios cranked out glowing propaganda films during the war, and dozens of heroic action flicks in the seventy years that followed. With that being said, it figures that a brazen filmmaker like David Ayer would craft a WWII film unlike any other.

Fury is the story of a grizzled American tank crew during the final days of the war in Europe. Brad Pitt stars as "Wardaddy," the unit's stoic leader who has led his men through bloody campaigns in Africa, France and now, Nazi Germany itself. With Berlin in their sights and the war's end imminent, both sides become desperate to accomplish their objectives. Atrocities are committed, morality is thrown out the window and save for the bonds of loyalty and brotherhood established within the cold world of their tank, humanity is a foreign concept to the boys fighting alongside Wardaddy. "Wait until you see it," Shia LaBeouf's Bible toting character warns, "What a man can do to another man."

And the shit they do in this film is gruesome.

Since bolting onto the scene with his script for Training Day, David Ayer has made a name for himself delivering poignant action thrillers. His movies are more than just dudes shooting guns and mindless violence. Fury is hands down, Ayer's best film yet. The emotionally charged chemistry between the cast, the film's hefty "War is Hell" narrative and the mind boggling levels of carnage depicted on camera delivers maximum, jaw dropping intensity. A woman sitting next to me in the theater literally jumped out of her seat during an unexpected sniper attack, and audible gasps where heard when flashes of mangled body parts and immolated soldiers appeared onscreen. This film doesn't mince words or images. There are no champions of virtue or bigger picture heroics in Fury, instead Ayer's film displays a jarring immediacy and gritty realism that highlights the genuine horrors of combat, and the frustrating futility of war itself. We won the battle? Great...too bad all my buddies are dead. What did they die for? A bridge? A road? Great. We're abandoning this spot and moving out in fifteen minutes. Mount up.

Imagine a film as unyiedlingly visceral as the Omaha Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, but without the eye glistening sentimentality attached to Spielberg's much acclaim epic. Instead, you're given a candid, almost intrusive, fly on the wall perspective that refrains from glorifying, or whitewashing the exploits of American soldiers during the brutal end days of the European theatre. Ayer's film is loaded with extraordinary performances, blazing action set pieces, and successfully hammers it's point across in spades. War is hell, no matter the era or circumstance. 

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