by Alexa Dalby
Brad Pitt stars in a gruesome Second World War movie with an ultra-high body count scripted and directed by David Ayers (End of Watch). Unflinching about the mud and gore, the movie’s battle sequences are massive, stunning and noisy. Tanks lumber around each other like pachyderms, spitting lasered bullet tracks like fireworks. Pitt is excellent as Wardaddy, in command of the tank nicknamed ‘Fury’, intent on bringing his disparate, war-brutalised band of men through unscathed. We see war through the eyes of raw new replacement Norman (Logan Lerman, fresh from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) first cleaning up the splattered brains of his predecessor and vomiting. Unless Wardaddy toughens him up fast, he’s a liability.
The battle scenes are impressively choreographed but the characters are one dimensional. There’s a bizarre interlude with two German women in a newly conquered town intended to show Wardaddy’s search for normality, and an unsettlingly strong current of religion used to justify the US Army’s actions as righteous. It culminates in a prolonged final showdown where Fury is stranded and alone defending itself against an SS battlion, in a landscape lit in murky browns like the Apocalypse. It was intended respectfully, its director says, to show the futility of war, the universality of the experience of soldiers on both sides and the ambiguity of what we mean by heroism – but I guess we already knew that.
Fury is showing on October 19th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival