Film Reviews


By • Oct 18th, 2014 •

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Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.

From the opening first frames of a beaming white sun on the horizon as a gallant white horse walks forth among the smoldering earth navigating the black silhouettes of the mechanical monsters of war, FURY is classic cinema on the path towards Oscar glory led by a mature and trusted Brad Pitt.

To quote Hemingway, ‘Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.’ On both sides, the good and bad/the right and wrong, the dogs of war are unleashed salivating and ravaging. Those liberating spread their hate hashing out punishment to civilians without discrimination to friend or foe. Towns set ablaze resemble ruins of centuries past as residents are reduced to refugees. Soldier and civilian, both weary, stand amid the desolation. All suffer. Unfortunately, women are at the mercy of mans’ beast.

Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Pitt) commands a tank thrusting towards the end of the war, having seen action from campaigns in Africa, now penetrating enemy lines into the German heartland. A gunner comes aboard to join the well-seasoned quartet, fresh faced and bright-eyed, unfamiliar with the atrocities of war. This typist is welcomed to his new position as a cog in a killing machine with a bucket to scrub blood and remove the remnants of a face from inside the tank.

In just a matter of hours, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is a witness under duress speedily subjected to love, death, and honor in exchange for physical, psychological, and spiritual trauma. Decades before the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this shell shocked recruit’s youthful joys are truncated and brutally executed, shattering unfaltering sanity into oblivion.

The tank serves as a mobile home for a family of five with Wardaddy as the strict father figure administering guidance and admonishing his young. His “boys” act as football teammates hazing the newest member – unkind and harsh – still mourning the death of their lost brother. Had this been high school in small town USA, Norman would amount to a timid frightful little virgin boy too delicate to make a tackle. This is Nazi German. He must embody the callous soul of a heartless killer for the tank to keep rolling with his family intact.

Wardaddy rebukes Norman for his resistance to transform his finger skills from typing keys to pulling triggers. In what may be perceived as a humiliating, taunting, emasculating, display of an intense brutal child rearing springs from the necessity of survival. It’s equivalent to a bird throwing its young from the nest miles high in the sky. Sternness vs. quivering, rebellion vs. obedience, shouting, tears, and begging, create a scene confronting life and death that exists to support the theme and characters that is unforgettable and incredibly well executed.

The Bible thumper, Boyd (LaBeouf), is on the battlefield tending to the soon to be dearly departed proclaiming Jesus with heartfelt compassion while finding moments during the hellish skirmishes to ask others if they have been saved. While spouting religion, he burns with the anger and resentment that war breeds unable to resist the temptation of looting, pillaging, and raping of the towns that he has freed from tyranny.

Two women hiding from lawlessness and marauding allies offer solace and retreat from the roving war RV. An exchange of welcomed gentleness and kindness, somewhat forced upon, teeters delicately. All of the military characters reveal much about themselves; some qualities to love, some qualities to loathe. The turbulent disruption of war carries the film to its third act.

Conflicting personalities aside, the unit works cohesively as the revered commander takes charge of his men, mobilizing the metal monster, mightily mowing down the enemy, crushing bone in the muck. Not since SAVING PRIVATE RYAN have battles resonated such remorse.

The germination period for the seed of survival to sprout was quick as Norman takes to his guns but still remains a boy in a mans war. He is beholden to his commander for the lesson in ‘tough love.’ The event about to unfold would challenge master strategists, the toughest of fighters, and the most brazen combatants.

Often, movies great faults are action sequences. The viewer is asked to suspend disbelief since the ridiculous was filmed for the sake of something stupendous. Not here. FURY’s director, David Ayer, masterfully perfects the ultimate military battle. Interestingly, Ayer is credited with the screenplay for the first in a series of films with absolutely ridiculous action sequences, although done extremely well, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS.

Responsible for this barrage of hellfire is Wardaddy, staunchly standing his ground, committed to his country, willing to risk all for his men. He is unwilling to cower and ready to execute the SS for their evils.

The great warrior of valor stands for honor, obedience, duty, and self-sacrifice. As a leader who can charge his men into a battle of insurmountable odds, Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier stands among Anthony Quinn’s Omar Mukhtar in LION OF THE DESERT and George C. Scott’s PATTON. His multifaceted personality creates a three dimensional character. Circumstances demand him to be icy and harsh. In memorable cinematic imagery, he strays from his men, revealing a weathered worn face burdened with sadness and despair. Brad Pitt has evolved to become a leading man with the on-screen charisma of Clark Gable.

Hollywood’s darling villains are Nazis. Dismiss all thoughts of repetitive boredom with another WWII film. FURY is destined be regarded as one of the greatest war epics to compare with ALL QUIET ALONG THE WESTERN FRONT. Every aspect of the film is first rate including the ending credit sequence. FURY is a film that lingers long after the screening leaving you feeling as though you have gone through hell.

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