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Wick's Review

Created Oct 19, 2014 10:28PM PST • Edited Jun 28, 2021 10:28PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    The pantheon of essential WWII movies has a new entrant. David Ayer’s Fury stars Brad Pitt as an American Staff Sergeant who must lead a platoon of Sherman tanks against the Germans’ superior Panzers. Think Chevies vs. Benzes, with Brad and his battle-hardened crew in an outgunned Sherman named Fury.

    Set in the last month of the war, just before VE Day, fighting Germans in Germany, it was beyond ugly.

    Ayer & Pitt’s Fury is an old-school war movie with new fangled realism. Even the music is old-fashioned, understated most of the time, making it a war movie with lots of quiet passages, though it does get loud, hella loud. Volume aside, it is matter-of-fact statements like the following that strike hardest.

    I came into this war killing Germans in Africa.
    Then I killed Germans in France, then in Belgium.
    Now I’m killing Germans in Germany.

    Brad Pitt delivers this perfect line perfectly, a guy named Don, who other tank commanders call Wardaddy. Pitt is monumental, etching another Rushmorian performance into his oeuvre. Badly scarred outside and in, his deeply American creation deftly conveys the cost of total war, decades before PTSD was recognized.

    America was the hero of WWII, the exceptional nation who should have received a century of global good will for what the Greatest Generation did. Within that heroism, the good guys played dirty, fought dirty too. That makes Fury a valuable tonic for today’s America, given that we find ourselves being targeted by an equally insane military aggressor. Ayer’s movie shows the price of victory against such a nihilistic enemy.

    Set inside a Sherman Tank, Fury has an intimacy found only in the few other tank movies, e.g., Lebanon. Pitt’s close-order crew includes three hardened vets played by Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña & Jon Bernthal, and a greenhorn, played by Logan Lerman. Nails performances all the way around, not just Bad Brad.

    Fury deserves its acclaim as a WWII movie within hailing distance of the sainted Saving Private Ryan, the first of the modern WWII masterpieces. As such, it deserves entrance into my Mount Rushmore Viewlist.

  3. Great 4.0

    Brad Pitt turns Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier into an iconic WWII movie character. Pitt’s pretty-boy features have long since taken on a patina of hard-won wisdom. The visible scars he wears as Wardaddy are hardly cheap makeup tricks, especially given how he instills his duty-driven, yet fatalistic hero with barely contained fury at the shitstorm he’s in. Coming just a few short years after his inimitable Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglorious Basterds, Pitt has now made the European Theater his personal fiefdom.

    Melting pot Crew of Fury
    • Shia LaBeouf plays the religious member of the Tank Crew and does it damn well. If he keeps this up, we’re gonna have to stop making fun of him.
    • Michael Peña plays the Mexican-American member, with a winning combo of charm and grit. Peña also starred in End of Watch, another Ayer classic.
    • Jon Bernthal hardly looks like a Georgia Coon-Ass, but he etches the most distinctive performance, aside from Bad Brad’s. Bernthal jumped off-screen in Wolf of Wall Street. Now this.
    • Logan Lerman believably transitions from tenderfoot to battle-hardened. He’s an actor of note.
    • Jason Isaacs employs his manly mien as another scarred American officer, a more impressive than usual performance considering Isaacs is British. Recall he played the Red Coat villain in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot. Good to have him on our side here.
    • Scott Eastwood is in the mix as another Sergeant, though he didn’t exactly jump off screen.
    • Brad William Henke as another grizzled tank Commander.
    • Stella Stocker as a refined German woman who cooks a meal for Wardaddy.
    • Alicia von Rittberg as her younger cousin, who shares a tender interlude with Logan Lerman’s sweet young man.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Fury has been called “the ultimate tank movie.” Yes, but it’s so much more, lifting the curtain on an ugly side of the Good War. Such complexity is de rigueur in great contemporary films, yet too often takes the form of American self-loathing. David Ayer deserves enormous credit for not shying from the awfulness that war brings out from even the good guys, or losing his moral bearings about who the good guys are and why they do what they do.

    Fury might not achieve the perfection of Ayer’s Training Day, but its historical and civic value make it a more important film.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Great 4.0

    Two minor dings on Ayer’s great screenplay:

    • It doesn’t avoid several war movie stereotypes, including a polyglot crew and a tenderfoot who shows up as a replacement for a KIA veteran.
    • It follows the Hollywood required rhythm of near-death, victory, celebration, worse near-death and then finally climax.
  11. Music Really Great 4.5
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Horrid 3.7

    Monstrously violent: Torsos get separated at the waist, large caliber ammunition barrels through heads, and a man’s face gets deposited next to where he last sat.

    Sexual conquest comes along with military conquest as the GIs liberate German towns from the SS bastards who are hanging women and children who won’t fight the Americans. How’s that for moral complexity?

    Mostly, the movie is about killing as fast and effectively as possible in order to end the damn war. Thank God the the Greatest Generation succeeded.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.9
  16. Violence Monstrous 4.6
  17. Rudeness Vile 4.6
  18. Glib 1.5

    True setting, if not a true story, meaning the movie takes poetic CircoReality liberties.

    The underlying reality and the questions it begs about our current reality are more interesting that Fury’s modest cinematic glibness.

    The 2nd Armored Division’s Rhine Campaign against the Nazi 5th Panzer Army was brutal, savage warfare. My cursory understanding of the situation leads me to believe Fury’s depiction of GIs having their way with local girls, summarily executing SS prisoners and generally being the baddest asses in the jungle.

    It would be very post-modern to examine the morality of those transgressions, which I have no interest in doing. However, Fury’s warts-and-all lens does highlight the conundrum our exceptional nation faces.

    America’s burden isn’t simply being the world’s best hope, but being the world’s best hope as America. IOW, we’ve got to do it with style points.

    Let’s end with a thought experiment: Could America have won WWII if MSNBC and MoveOn.org existed back then? Here’s a follow-on: Would MSNBC and MoveOn exist today if Hitler had won the War?

  19. Circumstantial Glib 2.0
  20. Biological Glib 1.4
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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Oct 19, 2014 1:50PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
“Outstanding cast, outstanding film.” Here! Here!