“Fury” is a recent American war film based upon a tank-led fight within the heart of Germany during World War II. The film stars Brad Pitt as Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier who leads his five man crew in a tank, Fury, through Nazi Germany during the war. The film captures the carnage of war and does so in a very period-driven way that rings true to history. It has everything a true war film would have, except it lacks any arousing attachment to the actual story itself. “Fury” goes many places visually, but emotionally it falters.
Don “Wardaddy” Collier’s team consists of Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal), and Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña), all of which have been together for several years fighting in the war. When their fifth man dies, newcomer and rookie Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) joins the tank crew. Norman isn’t received well by the rest of the crew being as though he doesn’t appear to be a fighter, doesn’t want to kill, and can’t stomach the atrocities that war brings about. He’s inexperienced and green, which is somewhat in line with Lerman as an actor. While he starred in several titles (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and the Percy Jackson series), he’s fairly green as an actor, still learning and growing. He captures the character of Norman Ellison brilliantly, using his shell-shocked expression to tap into the only thread of emotion the film really has to offer. Lerman’s depiction of Ellison’s growth from boy to man in a time of war is a wonderful gem “Fury” has to offer.
The rest of the main cast did a somewhat decent job at delivering what was written for them. Unfortunately, each of their characters lacked a story that would allow any attachment whatsoever to their overall journey. Shia LaBeouf probably does the best and tapping into the emotional heart strings a film like this so desperately needs, able to well up at any given moment as a single tear paves its way down his mud crusted cheek. Brad Pitt’s character is too stereotypical, and doesn’t allow many of the cracks in his façade to show, which is ultimately what a main character has to do in order to be dynamic and moving. There isn’t an overall arc for his character, though Pitt still portrays him with enough resolution. Peña and Bernthal, unfortunately, become stock characters in this tanker crew of five, one taking the role of random comic relief, while the other being the hardened man who lacks sensitivity.
While the film has very few moving moments, it still appeals visually. Set in 1945 Germany, the design, cinematography, and details bring you to that period. It feels very authentic and true to the film’s roots. From the muddy terrain and the way each tank’s tracks grip into the ground, treading on anything in their path, to the way the little German towns and homes speak to the architectural design of the time, “Fury” gets it all right. Even during action sequences, we see some great and gruesome images, bringing home the message that this is a war movie. It could have gone a tad further, but what it gave suffices.
Overall, “Fury” ends up being just another war movie. It’ll be remembered as the one with the tank sadly, and not as the one with a worthy enough story to be remembered by. While the authenticity of this period piece implants itself firmly throughout the two plus hours of downtime and wartime, the emotional connection to any of the people partaking in the barrage of blasts just isn’t there. Lerman and LaBeouf are the standouts here, but theirs and everyone else’s characters lacked a story to attach themselves to. In the closing standoff, we’re left with little desire of the outcome, the little of which is drawn out by those two actors as best they can. In the end, “Fury” doesn’t go anywhere worthy, nor does it inspire, leaving viewers feeling slightly furious at wasting their time on a story that fails to matter.
Final grade? C+