‘Fury’ Movie Review – Exploring the Morality of War
Maybe it’s because we’re so desensitized by war but if you actually think about it: war has to be one of the oddest things we do as a species. No country allows killing…except when we invade another country. This contradiction has been the backbone of countless debates. David Ayer’s (End of Watch) latest film, Fury, plants itself right in the middle of this debate to not only show off an effective war film, but an effective film on an array of different topics – including everything from leadership to friendship to morality. In the end, Fury is more than just another war movie; in fact, it’s the “right” war movie.
Fury primarily follows a five-man tank unit (going under the name of “Fury”) as they invade Germany during the latter stages of WWII. This group includes a unique set of soldiers that includes a battle-hardened sergeant (Brad Pitt), a pessimistic religious man (Shia LeBeouf), the resident loon (Jon Bernthal), his best friend (Michael Pena), and, finally, a recently enlisted typist-turned-replacement (Logan Lerman) named Norman.
In all reality, the movie focuses most on Norman and his progression from a war wussy to a war machine. This works to a degree but it’s not even the most effective part of the movie. This actually could be the biggest complaint I have with the entire movie.
Although it partially goes along with Norman’s character progression, the best parts of the movie, by far, involve the question of morality as it pertains to war. In this case, the war has certainly done a number on all these soldiers (and hearing them recount some of the grisly scenes was gnarly enough) and it shows through their characters and actions.
This then leads us to think about the psychology of war. After just about every major battle scene, the carnage leads you to wonder if everything is worth it. That’s part of what Ayer and company is trying to get at: how does fifty soldiers killing each other in the middle of a field in Germany help anything?
It’s a tough question and a tougher answer.
I mentioned this earlier when I recounted my favorite war movies, but part of the appeal of war movies involves the fact that the viewers can’t (or won’t) ever been in the situation. If you take this into account, Fury has to be one of the best war movies because the audience is thrown right in the middle of the war and experiences some of the atrocities first-hand.
As far as originality goes, there is a certain degree of originality to the tank setting. We’ve seen plenty of aerial battles over the years but tanks are a rarity. In this particular case, it’s not only suspenseful and visually-stunning, but it makes for an intimate setting for our main characters.
Each actor then does their part. I’m generally not a fan of LeBeouf but even I can’t say anything negative about him here. We expect good things out of Pitt and he again delivers. However, to me, the best (and most flashy) performance belongs to Bernthal. If you need any ammunition involving soldiers and how war can mess them up, look no further.
Looking at Ayer’s filmography, one of End of Watch’s main criticisms was that it basically took the most exciting parts of being a police officer and jammed them into one action-packed story. This same criticism could be shared with Fury; however, I think the plot – whether realistic or not – needs to exist to create those intense morality moments I was talking about.
War can be hell, there is no way around it. David Ayer’s (End of Watch) Fury illustrates this in a heart-pounding narrative that covers a tremendous amount of ground thematically. The most impressive part is how well it balances the different themes throughout without skimming over any of them. The end product is a striking look at both war and human nature, undoubtedly making this a must-see war movie.
Fury is out in wide release now. Sound off with your thoughts below.
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