Possible spoilers ahead!
For those of you expecting “Fury” to be another “Saving Private Ryan” or “Band of Brothers,” you’re out of luck. Heck, “Fury” is not even Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” You see, it doesn’t take long to realize that writer-director David Ayer spent more time fleshing out the battle sequences, and very little time working on the screenplay.
Set during the waning days of the war, Brad Pitt plays Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier, the commander of a five-man Sherman tank crew that has been together since North Africa, and who he is determined to see return home alive. His tank crew includes the religious-minded gunner Bible (Shia LaBeouf). Then there’s the Hispanic lead driver Gordo (MIchael Peña) and the psychotic scumbag mechanic Coon-Ass (Jon Berenthal).
As the film opens, they have just lost their second driver in battle, and at their next stop, they take on a new man in Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a wet-behind-the-ears soldier who has only been in the war for eight weeks. He’s not even trained for war, he was a typist, who has never fired a gun.
Needless to say, the other members of the Fury crew don’t welcome the new guy with open arms. Things get worse when Norman chokes during his first confrontation with a Nazi, and his failure to act leads to the grisly death of another tank commander in their column.
But this is after all movie, so not long after choking, Norman proves his mettle to the team and begins to mesh with them. Wardaddy even takes him out during a brief stopover to an impromptu rendezvous with a couple of German women (Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg) to relieve Norman of his virginity, and to enjoy some eggs.
Seriously, Brad Pitt has a bunch of eggs with him and he made one of the women cook for everyone. I’m not sure what thus whole sequence was supposed to achieve, but it went on for far too long. The whole thing was an uncomfortable 15-20 minute odyssey.
On the acting front, Brad Pitt is very good. The problem is his character isn’t very appealing. The big surprise in “Fury” was Shia LaBeouf who gives his best performance in years. I’m not saying he deserves an Oscar nod, but for Shia LaBeouf this was a great acting job. Despite their performances, the movie fails because these characters are so paper-thin, we are left begging for a little bit of a back story.
In a movie clocking in at two hours and fifteen minutes we are never given any particular reason to care about these characters, other than the fact that they are not Nazis. And when it comes to the final conflict and the personal sacrifices they each make, it all has little dramatic impact.
Director David Ayer is best known for writing gritty cop drama “Training Day,” and for directing “End of Watch.” Ayer also directed and co-wrote and this year’s Arnold Schwarzenegger flop “Sabotage.” “Fury” isn’t a completely horrible movie, but it is a very disappointing one.
With this film, David Ayer takes a giant leap forward in terms of scope and ambition, but the only good thing about “Fury” are the amazing tank battles. These sequences are quite impressive, and some of the best I’ve seen in any movie.
It’s a shame the script was almost an afterthought , because “Fury” could have been something really special. Let’s hope his adaptation of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad comes with a better script.
“Fury” final score: 6.5