Fury: brutal, unrelenting examination of war boasts exceptional performances

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By Tressa Eckerman, Contributor

Fury (2014)

Director: David Ayer
David Ayer made an exceptional impression with his underrated cop thriller “End of Watch” and he’s returned with a dirty, muddy war film about the desperation that come with survival, brotherhood and the absolute all-consuming terror of war.
Set in April 1945, during the waning days of World War Two a small, tight group of battle weary Sherman tank operators go behind enemy lines as the war comes to a close. There is the leader, Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), quiet and insightful gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia Labeouf), animalistic Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena) and the newest member Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman).
With the exception of Norman, they’ve been together since the beginning of the war and Norman is only eight weeks into his army career. He was trained as a typist but sent into the middle of battle, never having been inside of a tank. He’s the definition of wide-eyed terror.
When most people see Brad Pitt’s name attached to a war film nowadays they’ll probably think of Inglourious Basterds. Fury is far, far away from that movie. It is stunningly bloody and stark, hyper-realistic film while Inglourious Basterds, though great, is much more fantastical.
“I thought you were dead,” one of the men says to Collier when the men of “Fury” return at the beginning of the film, “the devil watched over his own” Collier answers.
“Fury” is a precise and perfectly executed film and Ayer excels at making the inside of the tank, named “Fury,” both claustrophobic and the home of these men. The battle scenes, particularly the first and one involving “Fury” and a German tank going head to head.
What really makes this film shine though is the performances. Perfectly cast, the group of actors has a deep chemistry and palpable bond. One of the brilliant things that Ayer’s does, and one of the true testaments to Pitt’s talent, is the sense of uncertainty with Collier. You’re never really certain what he’s capable of; the war has taken a terrible emotional toll on him but he has an obligation to these men and he is trying so hard to keep them alive.
The real standout here is Lebeouf. Forget all the real life drama surrounding the actor. His performance here makes a very good argument that he is one of the most underrated budding character actors working today. Bible is the emotional center, the beating heart of “Fury.”
Many critics have pointed out the close relationship between Collier and Bible, draw your own conclusions. Do they have a father/son relationship, father/mother relationship or are they simply brothers? It’s a long shot but Labeouf more than deserves an Oscar nomination for his work.
“Fury” is bound to be a divisive film. Until the final acts there isn’t much a plot, with the exception of character development and the relationship between these men. The horrendous violence is also bound to turn some people off, but Ayer doesn’t back down and he’s made a film that is meant to put the audience in the place of these men and experience what they had to do in order to survive. The tone, chemistry and powerful performances make Fury an extraordinary film.

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