Cert: 15 / 134 mins / Dir. David Ayer
David Ayer's 1940s grimace-fest is a difficult film to like, and I mean that as both a compliment and a detraction. So much time is spent in the first act illustrating what a bunch of a-holes Brad Pitt's war-weary tank crew have become, that when the shit really hits the fan and the man-hugs start breaking out, you've still got the abiding memory of a bunch of borderline sociopaths dampening the emotional atmosphere. Strangely, it was only two days ago that I re-stumbled across the phrase 'no characters think of themselves as the bad guy; they're all the heroes in a different movie'. It seems that in Fury, almost the opposite is true, and writer/director Ayer is so keen to illustrate the morally corrosive effect of sustained warfare that no-one in the film escapes with their halo intact.
But Fury isn't an ode to the pointlessness of war (not on the surface, at least), even if it does veer as closely to War Horse as it does Inglourious Basterds. And while I'm on the subject, allow me to throw in a pre-emptive yes, I'm comparing it to Tarantino's war-movie. Ayer's flick stars Brad Pitt in a role that's not a million miles away from Lt. Aldo Raine, and like its counterpart it has a tendency to drop into extended dialogue scenes. This, however, is where Uncle Quentin has the undeniable upper-hand. David Ayer seems far more interested in directing brutal and bloody violence than he does the quiet, character-building scenes, which pretty much gives the lie to any philosophical undertones the film might be suggesting…
Praise where it's due, the combat scenes in Fury (whether they're melee, firearm or artillery-based) are fucking astounding. Seriously. The sound-design details every ping, bang, ricochet and thudding explosion; the visual effects feature a rotoscoping for the gunfire which reminded me of the original-print version of 1977's Star Wars; and Roman Vasyanov's camera captures every twitch, scowl and grimace on the faces of a not-inconsiderable cast. The central players all do a solid job of giving complex performances*1, but there are hints of character which are drowned out by the explosions, and which could have been expanded far more given the opportunity.
When it's being a war-movie, Fury wears its title on its sleeve like a well-earned medal. It's the other film I had issues with. The one which is trying to justify lingering repeatedly on the unrelenting violence by giving us mumbled dialogue and skipping over the exposition of a narrative so linear that the tanks barely need to steer. The film which has its knowingly-flawed characters preach about the evils of the enemy for two hours leading up to a finale where there are no heroes, just a thinly-justified slaughter. Maybe that's the point? But I wasn't convinced that the film was an essay on duty, resignation and combat-stress. It's having far too much fun playing soldiers to be thoughtful.
Despite all my moaning, I enjoyed Fury, I'm just not sure what the writer is trying to say with it…
It's pretty much the size of it, but the trailer doesn't indicate the film's pacing issues (for obvious reasons).
For the most part, but I wasn't feeling the emotion.
Personally, I don't think it does.
You'll get the most out of Fury by seeing it big and loud in the cinema.
There is. I'd be amazed if there wasn't, frankly.
How are things coming along with that Wolfenstein movie? I'm getting impatient, here...
*1 Oh, and hello to Jason Isaacs.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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