Monday, January 12, 2015

Fury (2014) Review:

War films aren't the easiest to depict for a number of reasons. Depending on the era the war took place; the period had certain items. These items range from weapons, tools, clothing and vehicles. Not every item from every era exists nowadays. Even if they are still in mint condition, that does not mean it will be available for use. This kind of permission only happens when the people making the film really know what they are doing and have the respect to take care of it and use it in a way that not only shows it in its prime but glorifies it when it's over. The production behind this movie did exactly that The story follows Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) and his small crew that end up accepting a reassigned typist turned rookie soldier (Logan Lerman). Together, they face incredible odds to break what's left of Hitler's Nazis.

Brad Pitt and his crew
As a war drama, this film has it. Writer/director David Ayer displays that he worked hard for what he puts up on screen. The realism is definitely illusive, with lots of blood, explosions and ugly ways to die. It'll make audiences wonder how does one accept such a horrific fate or if they survived, how does one cope with what they saw. The best sequences however do not belong to the gun shootouts in the field or urban terrain. The notable scenes belong to the Sherman tanks. Visually watching these behemoths literally punch holes in anything they launch their projectiles into is enticing to see. This also goes with the mechanics behind how trained soldiers operate and direct these monsters. The operations also do not always take place from the inside, to give a better idea of what the tanks try to accomplish, cinematographer Roman Vasyanov also shoots from a bird’s eye view. It's a different angle and it works in helping the audience understand. Vasyanov also gets other good shots of the urban and rural terrain, either by infantry POV or just showing the devastation. The sound quality is also praiseworthy; much of it sounds like what you would hear from the old Call of Duty games.

The acting is also very good along with most of each one's development as an individual. Although this isn't Brad Pitt's first war film, he continues to show that he can immerse himself in the role that he plays. Here, Pitt portrays his character as a softy but only when it comes to his men and Fury; everyone else he could care less. Surprisingly as much as he continues to trash his reputation, Shia LaBeouf demonstrates that he can act too and not like the punk character of Sam Witwicky from Michael Bay's Transformers (2007) sequels. For once, LaBeouf is a man and that deserves a thumb’s up. Logan Lerman's performance is a great representation of the relatable character for the audience. This is due to his combat experience and how he sees warfare. As time progresses, audiences will understand why his view on war changes. Michael Peña as "Gordo" the only soldier in the crew to give a little foreign flavor provides much of the dry humor (it is done appropriately) that is easily understandable for the situations the crew gets into. Finally is Jon Bernthal who plays a somewhat uneducated soldier but even with his lack of respect for certain things, he also exhibits some likeable humanity from time to time.

The only real blunders this movie makes, belongs to its writing. The characters are developed accordingly but backgrounds are left out entirely except for a few tidbits. Aside from Lerman's character, nobody has any kind of back story other than the crew used to have more tanks and first met in Africa. Okay that's when they met, but what about family at home? This would not only flesh out each individual but also give them a more human persona than just military guys who have nothing but their comrades. Then again, that may be the case but it’s never stated clearly. Also, how is that Wardaddy knows fluent German? And why couldn't subtitles be put for those moments when German was spoken? It's not like they were the most pivotal points in the film but it would've been nice to know what was being said.

The tank battles are truly something
Besides these two components, the only other part that felt sluggish and extended for too long was a dining room table scene. Here, Wardaddy and Lerman's character take some time to settle down in a German woman's house. There they have them make a meal and sit down to eat. At that moment, the rest of the crew comes up and sits down with them. This scene drags, and in some ways feels intentional while also being unintentional. My guess is that the intentional was supposed to emphasize the importance of enjoying the moments of rest soldiers had. However, the unintentional may be that it went on for too long of "enjoying the moment" and forgetting where the time went. I guess the editors (who have worked for other well respected movies) forgot to trim this scene. On the other hand, the music composed by Steven Price was a new listening experience. Price included choirs that highlighted the doom and gloom of the Nazis and the horrors of war for the Allied troops. When it came to the tank scenes, the instruments kept the scene very tense by using deep brass and percussion. Considering he's only scored a few films, score collectors should keep an ear out for his next entry.

Writer/director David Ayer's story omits character back-stories and has one scene that drags but everything else works wonderfully. The acting is solid by all actors, the music matches the period's tone and the tank warfare is highly engaging.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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