Overview: At the tail end of WW2, a sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) leads a seasoned tank crew on a push against the Nazi power. Columbia Pictures; Rated R; 134 min
Bold: David Ayer (End of Watch) has proven himself to be an interesting director in his limited accomplishments. Fury is the strongest bullet point on his young resume. Fury takes nothing for granted. It is gruesome but not exploitative. Quiet, but not without weight. It is heavy, but not dramatic. Every death is painful, jarring, but not lingered upon. Death and destruction appear in every muddy scene. The dialogue is fragmented but existential, building conversations that are real and unsettling between men who constantly toe the line of death and live within that tomb of trauma. In Fury, there is no application of trumped up patriotism. Fury‘s war is not one of nations, but one of men brutally broken, whose bond is built of survival in unending violence and not monologues. Afterward, there is a sense that more war films should feel the way this one feels, though I can think of none that do.
Ability: Shia LeBeouf has finally been allotted the opportunity to showcase his talent. As, Boyd “Bible” Swan, LeBeouf brings an undeniable sense of realism. LeBeouf has teased this level of performance in a few films, but never has he shown talent to this degree. More than once, his is a scene-stealing performance in a movie chalk full of great performances. When the movie cuts deepest, Lebeouf is the sharp edge of the blade. Shia deserves his place in a certain group coming early next year. The Academy can not mis-judge that.
But, on to Pitt and the rest of the crew: Pitt’s character, Don Collier, is the film’s driving force and the stoic nucleus that holds the narrative together. His battle name (WarDaddy) and his commonly framed hero pose illustrate the position amongst his crew that he’s both inherited and earned. He is a stern, shaken, tactical, disciplined, and confused leader. Pitt has proven over the years to be one of the most ego-less leading men of the modern film age, and his ability here to hand over individual scenes to his co-stars further solidifies that reputation. Narrative attention shifts to Norman (an impressive Logan Lerman) in the second and third acts, as the young replacement gunner, and that is necessitated by his status as the only character who is subject to change. But when it’s all over, there is no other way to see it: Pitt has held this ensemble together. His performance opens the narrative for the rest to step forward when called upon.
In the End: Fury is the most realized film of the year and the best war movie since The Thin Red Line.