Visually, emotionally and symbolically, Fury is superb.
Visually, Fury is excellent. The film’s no-holds-barred approach to the physicality of the situation is on point; David Ayer utilises gore to stun, without it ever feeling unnecessary. From the outset, brutal scenes of human destruction frame the picture, but are thankfully included for more than simply to hold attention. These scenes are included to make the viewer recoil away, which I often did, but weren’t excessively dramatised. The gore was handled very carefully.
It’s most striking visual component however, was the film’s use of mist. Rolling into picture from the wide, agricultural landscapes, mist often obscured focus and clarity. This is a welcome move in a film that would have suffered from overly crisp shots. Utilising the realism of the mist created imagery that was both visually-pleasing, and dramatically poignant.
One goes through countless polarisations of emotion, following the changing emotional state of the characters, in what is a cathartic yet exhausting experience. The tank regiment’s emotions are restless, but are underlined by severe sadness. This sadness is covered under shrouds of bravado, joviality and despair, whilst the brilliant acting performances make it very clear that these shrouds are only that. The deep, profound sadness that is locked within each character spills out in several scenes, scenes that will actuate many a teary eye, but are quickly recovered with said shrouds. Experiencing this sadness through the eyes of the fresh-faced Norman (Lerman), his emotions become your emotions.
Each of the film’s starring quintet will tug at the heartstrings in what is as fine a collection of performances as this year will produce. Conventional war film stereotypes appear but with two more dimensions than in many big-screen showings.
Pitt, in what is a polished performance, acts as the regiment’s facilitator, as his humor and steel-will are the necessary bedrock for the clan’s charm, cohesion and chemistry. Bernthal provides the most striking emotional dualism in the picture. His arrogant, meat-head exterior is his shield, and you hate him for having it. Yet, when his shield is lowered, a struggling man with a powerfully good heart is exposed. Similarly, Michael Peña was striking in his struggle, most notably with his dining room story.
Logan Lerman will deservedly gain the highest praise for his vulnerable showing, but my personal highlight was the performance of Shia LaBeouf. Emotionally, he stood out as his character waged inner war with his sadness, his religion and his brotherly connection with the regiment’s Staff Sergeant. His stoic crying deserves a special mention as an especially heart-wrenching visual.
Fury is an honest, intense and defiantly dirty picture, but it is not one without flaw. Romanticising of select elements is a slight problem, whilst the story’s gallant Americanism is overly-present and the picture runs into certain clichés. These faults hold the picture back from the upper echelon of dramatic film-making, but one should not be too harsh on a film for being a film. The Americanism doesn’t jar and its ideas still grip like a vice. The use of its film-making freedom works in Fury’s favour, and as an emotive, cinematic work, is a worthy WWII drama.