Film reviewer Gavin Miller takes a look at Brad Pitt’s latest war flick.
Brad Pitt’s war movie is neither fast or furious – until the very end at least.
Trying so hard to emulate the likes of Saving Private Ryan (see similarities between Pitt’s team compared to Hanks’ group in Spielberg’s epic), David Ayer’s tank-drama is never quite as clever as it wants to be – and ends up as a middling Second World War film entry.
Fury is not without its commendable merits as it shows gritty tank warfare up, close and personal, and takes place right at the end of the conflict on German soil and for that at least tries to provide something a little different.
And come the tense ending battle, you can’t help but care for battle-hardened army sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier’s (an always good value Pitt) five-man squad – which includes Shia LeBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal – due to the atrocities of war that have gone before them.
Bar that, this April 1945-set spectacle is a quite slow and methodical affair – with less minutes of actual war-action than probably expected.
Whether this is an intriguing look at American soldiers’ adventures on Nazi soil, or abruptly stops the flow of the film, will be open to some conjecture – but Spielberg, Oliver Stone or Stanley Kubrick, director David Ayer isn’t (at least yet).
Fortunately the tank platoon’s weary veterans like Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan – LeBeouf in a welcome return to form – Garcia (Pena), Travis (Bernthal), and particularly an impressive Lerman as Norman, provide enough on-screen camaraderie (when you can understand what they’re saying) to support Pitt’s ruthless lead.
This undoubtedly would have had Oscar aspirations to be up there with war’s great movies, but doesn’t get anywhere close to matching its seemingly larger ambitions, with up-and-coming director Ayer not quite nailing the tone.
Fortunately its visceral (and even moving) final battle as Wardaddy’s Sherman tank crew – completely outnumbered and outgunned – take on an entire German platoon to hold a vital position as the Allies make their final push, nearly makes this worth a watch for that alone.
But ultimately this will probably be the only thing the movie is really remembered for.