Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Movie Review: FURY (2014)


From IMDB:


April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Ratings: 8.1/10 from 35,937 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 209 user | 201 critic | 47 from Metacritic.com

From Rotten Tomatoes:

TOMATOMETER 79% |Average Rating: 7/10 | Reviews Counted: 201| Fresh: 158 | Rotten: 43 

Critics Consensus: Overall, Fury is a well-acted, suitably raw depiction of the horrors of war that offers visceral battle scenes but doesn't quite live up to its larger ambitions. 

AUDIENCE SCORE 89% liked it | Average Rating: 4.2/5 | User Ratings: 63,291 

As someone who lives in the present you wonder why they've tied logs to the side of their tanks. ©SONY Pictures
The Preamble

Well, it's been a week or more since the last blog post and even more since the last movie review. I think. And yes, I know this isn't a new movie by any stretch, it's been out a week now but hey, I only got to watch it this last weekend.

So that being said if you've not seen the movie you've probably already heard about it from friends who have seen it or read many, many other reviews about it. Maybe even better written ones than you're about to read. 

The moment you realize that to be accepted you have to do something you'd never imagine you'd do. ©SONY Pictures


So as you know from the short write-up above it's about a tank crew that goes behind enemy lines during World War II. If you've read other movie reviews you know that this tank crew lost one of their crew early in the movie who is then replaced by a very young, very green and very naive soldier. If you've seen this movie you also know that this naive young man is a victim of circumstances as all he's been prepared to do, all that he's been trained to do is type 60 words a minute while sitting behind a typewriter in a comfortable office.

Another thing you'll know if you've seen the movie is that it is extremely graphic in its representation of violence during World War II. A lot of reviews compare how graphic it is to Saving Private Ryan, saying how realistic the violence portrayed is, I'm of the opinion Saving Private Ryan is nowhere near Fury on this aspect. This movie is far more graphic than Saving Private Ryan and more frequently too.

Getting his game face on before mowing down nazis. ©SONY Pictures

In terms of plot, it's really not that deep or that hard to understand. A tank crew, famous for being the toughest and best there is, loses one of its team mates and gets a replacement who just isn't anything like them.  There's a period of adjustment as the new guy figures out what's what. Their leader Brad Pitt takes him under his wings and puts him through his paces, toughening him up in the fastest way possible so that he isn't a risk to himself or anyone else. Before long they're sent on pretty much a suicide mission where they are the only ones left standing. That's it. Pretty simple and formulaic. 

What sets this movie apart from the rest of the World War II situated movies is in the details. Apart from the graphic violence that is. 

The only tender moment which ends up not being a happily ever after moment. ©SONY Pictures

Let's start with the cast. Brad Pitt is as you'd expect, he's good here. If you've seen him in Inglorious Basterds, which he was good in, expect pretty much the same here except maybe without as much depth or character development. Or I could be wrong. But I enjoyed his work here. 

Norman played by Logan Lerman is believable as a the typist-turned-turret-gunner. His awkward manners in and around the tank and crew, his fear and naivety appeared very real to me. 

The rest of the crew, Boyd 'Bible' Swan played by Shia LaBeouf was not too bad. I usually don't like his acting, He just comes off wrong for me but here he was tolerable except for the weeping which I think was just too much. Yeah, I get he's a God fearing man and maybe a little sentimental in his belief of the good of man but come on what's with the crying in every scene?!

Gordo played by  Michael Peña was also a refreshing change. You almost never see a Latin American face in one of these movies let alone one that has such a major presence. And he even had a pretty long monologue in the middle of the movie. He was good and down to earth for me. 

The last crew member, Grady 'Coon-Ass' Travis played by Jon Bernthal was brilliant as the crude and crass country bumpkin. He was abrasive and very hard to like as a character and you felt it. I didn't like him at all and this is a movie with Shia LaBeouf in it. 

Brad Pitt is angry here. But then he's always angry when he's in a World War II movie. ©SONY Pictures

Let's move on now to the visuals. Aside from it being extremely violent and graphic there's nothing much to say. The shots are nice, The details very good. Exterior shots all quite well done, not that you'd notice it once the action starts up and that's where I thought it excelled. The battle scenes are well done and edited, you felt the pace and the drama and the urgency of what they were doing. What I really liked was the interior shots within the tanks. The close quarter visuals just gave you that sense of claustrophobia of being in that tight space. Never once during that movie did I think it would be cool to be in that tank. Those interior scenes made me think of good U-Boat and Submarine movies of the past, which for the life of me I can't remember which other that U-571 which may be the wrong one I'm thinking of. 

Scenes that stood out for me after about 3 days of watching it? Well, not much really. Some of the violent scenes are pretty much burned into my retina but not much else except maybe a few. The scene where Brad Pitt's character forces Norman to shoot a captive Nazi soldier, the scene where Gordo relates a story of what happened in the early days of the Normandy beaching just to remind Don of what they've been through together, those stand out for me. And the other scene happens when they realize they don't have much of a chance against the Nazi SS at the crossroads. But the others don't really stand out. Those that are burned into my retina and memories of the graphic violence don't need to be mentioned. They are important to the story but it's better you go watch it for yourself. 

That moment when you realize you're on your own and your tanks not going anywhere. ©SONY Pictures

Some scenes do stand out but not because they're good but because they're a little too silly. A few that I remember are at the end in the final last-man-standing scene, it's night so it's dark. They are trapped in their tank and the Nazi SS have recovered somewhat and are mounting their attack. Their captain tells them to swarm and surround the tank and attack it except that no one goes behind the tank to attack it. Which seems odd don't you think? Another that stands out is at the very last moment when all that's left of the crew is Pitt and Lerman, Pitt is mortally wounded and Lerman has no ammunition left in his machine gun. The Nazi's are outside they say what they say and then the top tank port opens and two grenades are thrown in. Lerman escapes through a hatch, he survives. Next morning the Nazi's all move on and Lerman crawls in to see what's happened. Now those two grenades couldn't have landed far seeing as it's in the inside of a tank but guess what? Brad Pitt's character is not blown to bits or maimed or disfigured in any way. He's a little bruised and scarred but that's it. Amazing? I say ridiculous. Througout the whole movie they show limbs shot off by machine guns, heads explode, bodies dismembered and rolled over by tanks and somehow Brad Pitt's body survives the explosion from two grenades inside a tank! There are many more similar ridiculousness but those two just stood out for me, I'm sure CinemaSins will pick up on more when Jeremy gets his hand on the DVD.

The moment you realize this movie isn't as real as it should be when in the middle of darkness no Nazi soldier bothers to attack the tank from behind. ©SONY Pictures

So overall, I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Well paced and acted. A little too graphic in the depiction of violence but hey I'm not the only one, even the World War II veteran that was consulted for the movie thought it was too. Is this a memorable movie? Well, there's a lot of other World War II related movies and a lot of them claim that theirs show how real theirs is compared to others. I wouldn't know of course but this certainly does look convincing. Are there stories like this that happened during World War II? Maybe, there are a lot of heroic stories and some were maybe lost because those that went through it never survived to tell them. Reading through some reviews Saving Private Ryan kept popping up as comparison. I don't think these two compare. They are two different animals for me, even when comparing how graphic these two are. 

Well, like I said I enjoyed the movie and because I enjoyed it I give it a solid 3.7 out of 5. If you haven't seen it and are looking for a good action movie this is worth your time but avoid it if you don't like graphic violence. If you think Michael Bay films are violent than avoid this movie. 

And oh yeah, I got to watch Fury because TGV Cinemas was kind enough to give me free passes so, THANK YOU TGV CINEMAS!!   


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