Fury wants to be a great movie, it yearns to be great… but in his effort to be profound, writer/director David Ayer misses the mark badly. War is hell and wreaks untold havoc on the human spirit- Ayer wants viewers to feel the unrelenting brutality of war, even a “noble” one like WW2. War forces moral men to commit unspeakable acts – this paradox is what drives the plot of Fury. No new ground is broken in Ayer’s bleak, often gory depiction of the final push into Germany. The armor of the tank- symbolic of the mechanization of death throughout- traps as well as protects our fighting men. Grisly, muddy, and tormented, Ayer’s film never reaches its lofty goal of understanding how humans are capable of such horror.
What’s missing in the savagery of the script is humanity… viewers never truly meet the characters. Faces smeared with grease and mud rarely emote much more than weariness or fear. Stock characterizations and odd southern accents are meant to convey typical working class grunts- but Ayer never shows us the men; instead, we see hints of humanity smothered in the fog of war. Spielberg was able to expose the heart wrenching effects of war on our basic humanity in Saving Private Ryan. There is no talk of home, hearth, or loved ones in Fury. A brief romantic fling with a terrified German girl is as close as this film gets to emotion. Gone are patriotic renderings of the American flag- replaced with the relentless rolling of tank treads through mud and blood. Even the star power of Brad Pitt is unable to bring much depth to the broken spirits of apathetic warriors. Little talk of brotherhood, patriotism, or mission- minimalism interrupted by brutality is how Ayer renders war.
Loosely based on the service of decorated American tank commander… Sgt. Lafayette Pool, Fury is a decent piece of historical fiction. Special effects have forever changed war movies, and Ayer has crafted a prototypical example of what we have grown to expect; gritty realism and gore. The message of the film, driven home with its gloomy cinematography, is nearly anachronistic in a WW2 story. Such a story line is all too common in movies about the Vietnam War, it is painfully out-of-place here in the great conflict of our time.