Really good World War II films are a rare breed, and whilst nothing will ever compare to the brutality of Omaha Beach, David Ayer’s dark journey into the minds of the embattled US fighting force as the dying embers of the Second World War hang on, comes as close to Spielberg’s vision as any other film ever has.
It’s a fictional tale set in the tale end of the hostilities in Europe, as Hitler has called for Total War and a fight to the bitter end, one tank crew that has fought since Africa, finds themselves having to replace their assistant driver, but only being given a clerk who has never seen combat, let alone the inside of a tank.
This causes some hostility from the crew, who are cynical, weary, and ready to kill anything that moves, just to make it through the war alive. The fresh face reminds them of something they lost a long time ago, their humanity.
Ayer however has not written a film about how humanity can be rediscovered, but rather how quickly horror can take it away. Ayer also seems to want to dance around the issues of religion, hope and God, though lacks either the ability or the desire to explore the theological issues of Hitler’s ability to enter Heaven – which is an actual talking point for the crew in Fury.
Dark and gritty, Fury holds nothing back, from the green recruit having to clean his predecessors seat, which includes removing half his face, to tanks rolling over bodies, to men being burn alive. War is hell and Ayer embraces the hellish side of it apparent ease.
But it’s not all about the killing and gore, Fury excels because we care about the crew of one tank, and we care because Brad pit does an amazing job of not only being a brutal, almost sadistic leader, but also a father figure. It succeeds because amazingly, Shia LaBeouf doesn’t suck. In fact LaBeouf often steals the scenes with his religious mumblings, mixed with all out hatred of Nazis, resonates as one of the truest characters a war film has ever produced.
Of course, a film about a lone tank crew, facing overwhelming odds is always going to find it a hard task to end well, and whilst Ayer does an admirable job, it’s probably one of the weaker moments of the film.
Rating: R16 Graphic violence & offensive language.