‘Fury’ Review: Dirty War, Pretty Brad


Movie Rating:


War is bad, really bad. It’s also dirty, really dirty. But there are heroes, real heroes. We should respect them, really respect them. Yep, it’s that movie again! Now with Brad Pitt.

The latest in the seemingly endless stream of WWII epics cranked out by Hollywood is called ‘Fury’. Even though that title refers to the tank at the center of the action, it’s still about as generic as war movie titles get. Yet, for this specific war movie, that name doesn’t quite feel generic enough. Something like ‘World War II Movie Vol. XXXVII’ might be more appropriate. Writer/director David Ayer (‘End of Watch’) has gathered a bunch of grizzled men and shoved them out on a mission again. While Ayer takes an admirably filthy approach to the material, he also slavishly trots out every familiar genre trope for one last blast. There’s nothing overwhelmingly wrong with the film, but there’s nothing particularly exciting about it either. It’s just another trip through the war movie motions, and one that doesn’t even dare to offer audiences a sense of fun or a moment of relief. There’s far too much reverence involved for that.

Brad Pitt stars as the commander of that tank called Fury. The war is nearing its end. Hitler’s army now only commands Germany and the walls are closing in. Pitt’s been fighting since the beginning, gradually working his way through Nazi colonies all the way to the center of Germany. He’s weary and worn, but he’s a survivor. So is his entire tank crew for that matter, including folks like gunner Shia LaBeouf and driver Michael Peña. Most people in their position have long since died, but under the guidance of Pitt, they keep going.

The film opens as they return to base after one of their crew took a bullet to the face. They’re assigned fresh-faced recruit Logan Lerman (‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’), who has never seen combat before, and have to show him just how tough war can be while also slowly showing hints of friendship. From there, the movie is a series of viciously violent battles building up to the inevitable final battle. The rigid string-of-battles structure is broken up only through one endlessly long scene that feels like a play in which Pitt and Lerman try to find a little peace and home in the middle of the battlefield with a German mother and daughter, only to have the ugliness of war spoil that moment as well. You see, because war is ugly and ruins all things.

Ayer’s primary intent with the movie seems to be staging WWII combat with filth and grit and blood that removes any and all romance from the violence. Many scenes are indeed quite nasty in a way that rarely makes it through the studio spin machine. Yet the effect is also quickly exhausting. That’s undoubtedly a deliberate attempt to make warfare seem as deadly and endless as possible. However, it removes any and all sense of action or thrill from the movie and turns it into a morbid slog.

The central characters aren’t much more than stock types either, such as the token Christian, the hopeless newbie, the gross guy with bad teeth, and the fearless leader. The actors admittedly do good work within those constraints (with, shockingly, a particular standout performance from LaBeouf), but the overwhelming tediousness of the structure makes it hard to care.

Hollywood gloss does occasionally slip through Ayer’s filthy machine as well, and is all the more distracting for how out of place it feels. In particular, Brad Pitt’s finely combed hipster hair is the only thing on screen that seems impervious to the dirt, blood and even explosions of war. No matter how bad things get, Pitt’s hair remains perfect. And if you notice, you can’t help but be distracted from start to finish.

In many ways, ‘Fury’ is a success. It presents war as raw and ugly in visceral ways. The action is always well staged, and the performances are strong. And yet, by virtue of the fact that absolutely every element of the movie is so familiar and repetitive, it’s hard to ever get as wrapped up in the material as Ayer clearly desires. No matter how well the director achieves his filmmaking goals, he’s never able to overcome the fact that each and every one of those goals has been achieved many times before.

For those who simply love war movies as long as they’re competently made, ‘Fury’ will undoubtedly be an enjoyable picture. However, for anyone expecting something other than the norm, ‘Fury’ never really registers. The movie fulfills the required Hollywood mandate of releasing a prestige war picture every few years. It’s just a shame that no one involved dared to do anything to make this entry unique.


  1. Shame…I was really looking forward to this one.

    I knew this movie was going to be problematic when I saw in the previews a shot of all these tanks moving and firing the same time. While those old Shermans COULD fire and move at the same time, they were wildly inaccurate, meaning they almost NEVER fired while moving – it was considered a waste of ammo.

  2. Deaditelord

    Is it just my imagination, or is Hollywood’s movie output been absolutely dismal this year? Gone Girl and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were great, and Guardians was mostly okay (unlike most, I didn’t much care for Chris Pratt’s performance), but it seems like everything else has been lackluster at best.

  3. Phil Brown

    I actually think this year’s been pretty good for movies. Just looking back on reviews from this site I loved Gone Girl, The Guest, The Boxtrolls, Whiplash, The Trip To Italy, Calvary, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Boyhood, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, They Came Together, Snowpiercer, 22 Jump Street, The Sacrament, Edge Of Tomorrow, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Only Lovers Left Alive, Oculus, The Raid 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nymphomaniac, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Lego Movie. Plus there are still more good ones to come and a plenty of others that I liked. That’s not bad for a year. I’m not saying it’s one of the greatest years of filmmaking of all time, but there were more movies that I loved this year than last year.

  4. Wendy

    Fury has a much more impressive cast of Jewish actors (Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Isaacs) playing WWII soldiers than Pitt’s Inglourious Basterds did.

  5. Deaditelord

    I suppose you’re right Phil. I also enjoyed The Lego Movie, The Raid 2, Captain America, and X-Men, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (not sure why I keep confusing it with Rise), and Gone Girl. I think my issue is that it seems like the time between good movies has become noticeably longer this year. For example, since Dawn the only two movies I’ve been genuinely excited to watch were Guardians of the Galaxy and Gone Girl. For someone who normally goes to the theater on a regular basis, that’s an unusually long wait between movies.

    Perhaps it’s time for me to check out more of this year’s independent offerings to improve my opinion 🙂

  6. Phil Brown

    Well, August and early September are traditionally periods where a whole bunch of shit is released between the blockbuster influx and awards season. So that’s pretty normal. But yes, do check out indies. You’re missing so much good stuff.

  7. Chapz Kilud

    I agree with Phil. Fury was terrible. The story is a typical outnumbered guys getting wiped out in heroic mission.

    There are also some inaccuracies with the movies. American tanks do not have radio in general. Every German tank commanders have radio, but rarely do the Americans.

  8. frankie

    I don’t know, there’s a lot of shitty “indie” films being spit out all year long too. Take off those rose colored black framed glasses! Keep the beards though, winter is coming. Nutella anyone?

  9. Chris B

    Saw this last night and that it was decent…didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. It probably helps to know what kind of a movie it is going in. Anyone looking for ad extremely accurate fact based account of history will no doubt be outraged. Anyone wanting to see what basically ends up being a Rambo movie set in WW 2 with over the top brutality, gore and gloominess will probably enjoy it.

  10. Timcharger

    I disagree with the harshness of Phil’s review.

    Demanding uniqueness in war films?! There’s only been hundreds
    of them and a dozen Academy award ones, so I guess we should just
    stop making the whole genre of war films, Phil?

    And this line of yours Phil is rather insulting:
    “Pitt and Lerman try to find a little peace and home in the middle of the battlefield with a German mother and daughter, only to have the ugliness of war spoil that moment as well. You see, because war is ugly and ruins all things.”

    Because we are such a peace loving nation, in a peaceful world, nary
    a military conflict in the world, that we DON’T need reminders how
    inglorious and ugly war is? We need MORE reminders that “war is
    ugly and ruins all things.”

    We are inundated with clean, glossy clear-coat-paint transforming
    robots fighting bloodless wars; films with daddy coming home safe,
    rescuing the whole family and dog/cat, and giving the bad guys some
    witty zingers at the end. Most Americans don’t know how ugly things
    are except for the injury depth chart of their favorite football team.

    Phil do you watch Holocaust movies with the same attitude? You see,
    because (we all know too) that genocide is ugly, and ruins all things.

    • Timcharger

      I haven’t vented enough…

      Let me set up some more dickish lines for your future reviews:

      You see, because rape is ugly and ruins all things.
      You see, because terminal cancer on toddlers is ugly and ruins all things.

          • Phil Brown

            Hi Tim. I employed sarcasm there because I thought the scene was tedious and obvious in execution, not intent. Yes, I believe movies should be made that show the ugliness of war. There are many that I love. I Just thought this one was stupid. You know, just like how you found my review stupid and yet you’re not against the existence of movie reviews in general.

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