A tank crew tries to survive in the closing days of World War II.
David Ayer is a filmmaker with a certain lineage. His writing peaked with the script for 2001’s Training Day but he also penned The Fast and the Furious and SWAT. His move behind the camera conjured up the likes of Harsh Times, Street Kings and Sabotage, which was in cinemas just a few short months ago. He also made the enjoyable End of Watch, his best film so far, to my mind.
His movies are about men doing manly things, often including killing and dying, but at his best he brings out a kind of nobility, a mythical sense which elevates the material and makes it more than just a slice of gory action garbage.
Fury definitely aims for the same kind of mythical strokes, taking us into a real historical period but focussing much more on a family unit which has coalesced from the grime and grue inside the cramped cockpit of an American tank.
This is the tale of the not-so-subtly named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) who does what it takes to help his boys survive – up and including forcing them to kill against their will. He will bring them through if he can, though the set up of the film hardly suggests that there’s going to be a happy ending.
This comppex and combative dynamic is by far the best thing about the film, apparently forged through months of preparation and rehearsals and a production process which included plenty of real mud, limited food and a distinct lack of showers.
Into that mix also came mercurial sorts like Shia LaBeouf – then at the height of his well-publicised madness. And he truthfully gives the best performance of his career, one that’s far more subtle than I was expecting and constantly on the verge of breaking down.
Ayer crafted very unique conditions for the film and, together with an eye for technical detail, it makes for an experience that’s always evocative and just as often horrifying. There’s plenty of gory violence onscreen, some it verging closer to horror territory, but its all carried off well and serves the purpose of satisfying the nasty reality of the period and giving violence fans something to look forward to.
So, there are many elements in play, put together with serious commitment, but the film itself never really lives up to the quality of its component parts. As the drawn out 134 minute running time comes to a close, the film starts to get extremely self-involved, searching for significance in a glut of awkward quotology.
The group dynamics are worth the price of entry and there’s a real sense of grime in every frame but there’s also something ultimately hollow about the film – all sound and Fury, signifying nothing.