Movie Review #890
THE MOST REALISTIC WAR MOVIE SINCE “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”.
By Alexander Diminiano
|Released October 17, 2014 (nationwide)|
|Action, Drama, War|
|Rated R (graphic war violence, disturbing content, frequent profanity)|
“Fury” hits pretty darn hard on its audience. Every scene is either exciting, heartbreaking, reassuring, reveling, comforting, or terrifying. The scary part is you never know which one of these the movie’s about to become. “Fury” doesn’t ask you to prepare yourself for what comes next. Director David Ayer wants to come up from behind and attack. He likes to make us think that everything is all right. In an early scene, the American soldiers are seen throwing innuendos back and forth at each other, passing the time as they make their way onto the front. You can never expect when that moment of fun is going to be interrupted by enemy gunfire.
What we have here is the most realistic war movie since “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). The scope of “Fury” is extremely sincere. It’s not only an antiwar movie but a pro-peace movie. The story is told from the “ugly duckling” perspective of Norman Ellison, a Private for the US Army. Private Norman is as young as 20 and has gone to school to become a typist. He never wanted to go to war. He’s been in the army for eight weeks and is utterly inexperienced. He refuses to kill any of his enemies because he believes strongly that killing is wrong. Norman’s mindset never changes very much, but he is much more accepted over time by his peers.
Some of the most heartfelt scenes in the movie are when we begin to realize that Sergeant Staff Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) is starting to understand Norman as a person. Brad Pitt’s performance in “Fury” stands above the whole rest of the cast (which is terrific), and it is up to par with some of his finest work. The film greatly benefits from the objective perspective of Private Norman, and Pitt adds to that considerably. He transition from a draconian enemy to a strong, determined ally–and a compassionate friend–is seamless.
“Fury” gives a vision of war that seems both brutal and brutally honest. Up until the last few minutes, where we see just too much glamor in one of the film’s most pivotal points, the romanticism is very limited here. At the same time, the realism can be nearly too much to handle. You don’t often see bodies being mowed over by an M4 Sherman tank when you watch war movies, but there’s many, many instances of this in “Fury”. The sight is more than gruesome. Maybe the most unsettling moment is an extensive scene where Wardaddy forces Private Norman to shoot an SS soldier. I couldn’t tell whether I felt sorrier for the German soldier–a Nazi, but more simply a man facing a prolonged death–or for the American soldier–a debutante who does not believe in violence.