FURY!!!!! This is the exact word I have for Birdman not playing in any of the theatres in Spokane, the film this week I'm dying to see. I'm just Fury-us! (I know, that was stupid). So it was fitting that it was this film that I saw instead to ease my- my- my!!! . . . well, you know. As it is self evident, Fury is a war film. This one is set at the end of of the WW2. A team of rag-tag, American tankers are sent to the front lines of Germany, right as Hitler is down to his last straws. Chaos and the perils of war await them.
Most of my reviews I begin by talking about something that is most prevalent on my mind after seeing a film. This one is no exception. Let's throw away everything in the tabloids to the ground and not think about them for a second. Shia Labeouf is one heck of a talented actor. He often gets hate undeserving for his performances. You can't blame him for all of Michael Bay's crap lines. Sure, he has acted out in his past in ways that many see as disgusting, but that is not our concern. He has things to work through in his personal life. It's not our job to make hate more viral. Let's focus on his performance, which is by the way fan-freakin'-tastic. He is in the moment, diving so deep into character, so deep into authentic emotion, I forgot who I was watching at moments. I felt his pain. I felt his joy. I felt everything that came out of his mouth.
Also excellent as ever, though not as compelling as Shia, is Logan Lerman. I have been a Lerman fan ever since seeing him Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I am just as impressed with him now as I was then. He does a great job of playing the sympathetic outcast with honorable intentions about as good as any young actor working today. His vulnerability during moments of gut wrenching emotions are something to watch, and show potential for him being an Oscar contender later in his life.
This is Brad Pitt's movie though. Regardless of whether Shia Labeouf's performance is more compelling and Logan Lerman has just as much screen time, this is Pitt's Movie. He is the loose moral greyness of the film, “the kill or be killed” persona, that evokes the response needed. War is horrific beyond measure and these stories wouldn't be the same without the wounded vet who is no longer fighting for the cause of war, as he would have you think, but he is fighting for his humanity. Trying to keep spoilers out as much as possible, let's just say he doesn't always succeed.
The same goes with the rest of his crew, all excellently acted as well, who show that not everybody in war on the “right” side is a good guy. The film is very much uncompromising in this respect. It shows an incredibly grim take on war, as it should. Take the beginning of Private Ryan and expand that almost entirely throughout the rest of the film. Not too say that this doesn't make for some fantastic fight scenes fueled with powerful music and elegant cinematography; it is just so, so, so intense that it can be hard to watch. Fury is the most violent film I have seen this year, and that is saying something considering Snowpiercer was also in 2014.
It is also one of the more spiritual movies to come out this year. Some times you'll hear me, as a writer, complain about films being so wishy washy on spiritual thoughts, particularly Christianity. That is not the case here. Fury at least tries to deal with spiritual thoughts and it does this in such a way that feels admirable, even if it might not be completely. This brutality and philosophical ideas combine, for the most part, for some great moments. That is to say, Fury is entertaining and compelling. . . except when it isn't.
This brings us to the film's flaws. There is huge portion of this film, reminiscent of the grotesquely long dinner scene in the redux version of Apocalypse Now, that confounds me. I almost don't know what to say. On one hand, it is incredibly important for character development and is borderline profound while being incredibly memorable. On the other hand it feels entirely overdone and brings slack into the film, where it isn't wanted or needed. This slow pacing is also extends itself in few other parts of the film, though not enough to complain too much. The film is also scattered with clichés throughout, but again it is not too frustrating as there is enough brutality to mask the predictability.
So, is Fury worth watching in theatres? That is the real question, isn't it. Let me put it this way, if you are a lover of Saving Private Ryan, this film should satisfy you. However, if the barbarous acts of war are too much for you stomach, then I would advise against it. I would also advise against expecting Fury to be utterly phenomenal. It is not. What it is, is a film that is quite compelling and has some fantastic fight sequences. It is not much more, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the heck out of it. For the most part I did.
Personal Preference: 4.25/5
Critical Analysis: 4/5