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FURY Tanks For The Memories

furyDirected By David Ayer

Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena

An inexperienced American soldier, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) gets thrust into the dark and bloody heart of war when he is transferred from the typing pool to a tank crew in the closing days of World War II. Under the brutal tutelage of tank commander “War Daddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) he learns not only that war is ugly and violence is an inevitable byproduct of human existence, but that the hellish acts he must witness and commit are a necessary evil.

The obvious touchstones here are Cross Of Iron and The Big Red One, but writer and director David Ayer (Sabotage) is no Sam Peckinpah or Samuel Fuller. Those were guys who had seen some serious shit, and the brutality of their films, coupled with their occasional but inevitable lapses into melodrama, were because of a desperate need to communicate some incommunicable truths about human nature – the cinematic equivalent of grabbing someone by the lapels and shouting in their face. Ayer’s work, on the other hand, is imbued with a kind of unearned hip, macho nihilism that, while it may ape the mannerisms of more serious fare, never quite convinces.

Which doesn’t mean it’s without worth, mind you – it’s just not the unblinking gaze into the abyss that it pretends to be. The cast do good work – yes, even the much-maligned Shia LaBeouf – and the film is sufficiently violent to give some credence to its “war is hell” posturing. Indeed, there are points where Ayer seems to aspire to something higher – take, for example, the extended sequence where Wardaddy and Norman have dinner with two German civilian women after the allies take their town. It’s a strangely extended, exquisitely tense scene, more fraught with tension than any of the film’s battle sequences (it’s also, tellingly, the most Peckinpah-esque part of the film).

Ultimately, though, Ayer doesn’t have much to say about the torments of war that we haven’t heard before. As a bleaker-than-average action movie it just about works, so if your idea of a good evening’s entertainment is watching hapless footsoldiers getting ruthlessly dispatched in a variety of creative ways, Fury should fit the bill. It’s also kind of nice to get a look at an armoured crew doing their thing, rather than another infantry-centric war flick. It’s just not the steely statement on man’s inhumanity to man it clearly thinks it is.

TRAVIS JOHNSON

 

 

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