“Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”
When it comes to approaching war films, every director seems to have a certain agenda in the way they are going to portray it. David Ayer’s approach is summed up in that simple quote, delivering a war film that portrays the cruelty and rawness of war in a rather visual way. Ayer has had more misses than hits as a director, but if there is something he knows how to direct it is action set pieces. He may not be the greatest story teller and most of his characters aren’t developed at all, but when it comes to action scenes he directs them with great detail. Fury is at its best when it centers on the action and stays away from the dialogue and character buildup. Very few war films have centered on soldiers fighting from inside a tank perhaps due to the physical constraints so in a way Fury is unique (unless you have seen the foreign film Lebanon which takes place entirely inside a tank). David Ayer isn’t the first director who has experimented with this, but he does deliver a solid and entertaining film with gruesome action scenes. Saving Private Ryan has changed the way films portray war, and Fury is one of those war films that has been influenced by it. I can’t recall another war film that depicts the cruelty of war in such an authentic and raw manner as Fury does. Fury is my second favorite film from David Ayer, but I still think End of Watch is his best. However, it’s a huge improvement over his previous film, Sabotage.
The characters in Fury are clichéd, we’ve seen them before in many other war films, but the action scenes are unique and engaging. Even Brad Pitt’s Wardaddy feels like a similar character from Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds without that heavy southern accent. The rest of the crew that Fury focuses on also play the usual stereotypes from numerous war films of the past. Logan Lerman plays the new boy who doesn’t seem to belong to this violent world, but who we will see transformed by the effects of war. Shia LaBeouf is the Christian soldier who will throw out a pair of Bible verses in between fights. Michael Peña is the wise cracking latino and Jon Bernthal the bully who is the hardest to sympathize with. These are the five crew members inside the Sherman tank that the film centers on. Despite not being unique characters and often quite dislikable, the actors give strong performances. Brad Pitt is great as the Sergeant, although at times his star power does get in the way. I still enjoyed his performance very much. Shia LaBeouf was a surprise as well, he delivered a credible performance. The easiest character to engage with was Logan Lerman’s, who delivered a surprisingly strong performance as well. The entire cast was solid despite playing clichéd characters. There is a sequence in the middle of the film that feels out of place and hurt the overall pacing of the film, but the final 30 minutes will have you at the edge of your seat again. It is intense.