War. It is what it is.

3.75 STARS

Film Review © 2014 by Trip Reynolds

Action/War Drama

Directed by David Ayer. Screenplay by David Ayer. Produced by David Ayer, Bill Block, John Lesher, and Ethan Smith. Executive produced by Anton Lessine, Alex Ott, Brad Pitt, Sasha Shapiro, Owen Thornton, and Ben Waisbren.

Starring: Brat Pitt (as tank commander, Don "Wardaddy" Collier), Shia LaBeouf (as Boyd "Bible" Swan), Logan Lerman (as the ingénue, the novice recruit, Norman Ellison), Michael Pena (as Trini "Gordo" Garcia), Jon Bernthal (as Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis), Jim Parrack (as Sergeant Binkowski), Brad William Henke (as Sergeant Davis), Kevin Vance (as Sergeant Peterson), Xavier Samuel (as Lieutenant Parker), Jason Isaacs (as Captain Waggoner), Anamaria Marinca (as Irma), Alicia von Rittberg (as Emma), Scott Eastwood (as Sergeant Miles), Laurence Spellman (as Sergeant Dillard) and a host of others.

"Fury" is a fictional film, based on a collection actual historical events involving U.S. tank crews during the final days of World War II in Europe. Although fictional, the film is as honest and graphic in its presentation of war as Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan (1998)."

What exactly are we, the audience, supposed to take from films like this. This is not a "fictitious" film about killing and dismembering "zombies," but a "fictitious" film about killing and dismembering real people, and there's a big difference. Are we really supposed to be "entertained" by seeing people killed, dismembered, raped and other atrocities? Yeah, pretty much. Or, maybe we're supposed to learn from these films, which clearly have become pornographic in the presentaton of violence and other horrors of war; so hopefully, we'll avoid repeating the past. Naw, we're going to continue to repeat our past. In fact, perhaps the best lesson we've learned from these World War II films is how not to waste so much time and energy killing; to become more efficient in killing each other, which is exactly what we do now with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones. Just think, right now, from Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska a military person can command a drone to drop a lethal bomb in Baghdad, Iraq over 6,698 miles away. Now that's efficiency! Loss of American life = zero. Loss of life in Iraq = as many as we want to kill! What? Is the aforementioned sentence too . . . harsh? Grow-up, it's call war, and war has a certain . . . "fury," which brings me back to our film.

Like so many films of this genré, the centerpiece of the film is the sage, tank commander, Don "Wardaddy" Collier, played by Brad Pitt, who lead his seasoned tank crew of Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini "Gordo" Garcia ( Michael Pena), Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal), and novice recruit, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) through skirmish after skirmish. Pitt is excellent in his role as a grizzled, worn but extemely resourceful sage and leader. The character portrayals by all actors in this ensemble cast are precise, but without being caricatures or stereotypes. Instead, the primary stereotype of this flim is war itself. Consequently, just like war itself, you can expect people to die in this film, anyone, and they do, often in graphic detail.

However, even when outnumbered, not every soldier expects to die. In fact, Sergeant Alvin York (one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War I, and Audie Murphy (the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II) proved this fact through their ingenuity and perseverance in battle. Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Pitt) conveyed a similar persona, a commitment to survive as validated through his camaraderie with his tank crew, and it permeated the film. In the final battle, an escape plan only alllowed one member of Collier's crew to survive, which is predicatable for dramatic effect, but not particularly ingenious in a "real" life-or-death situation. Since this is a fictional film, the ending could have championed the "fury" of Collier's entire crew to survive through their ingenuity and perseverance, but it did not. Why not?

Direction by David Ayer is nicely paced, with spot-on editing by Jay Cassidy and Dody Dorn, that propel film to be engaging for the entire 134 minutes.

Recommendation: See this film, and hopefully, learn from it.