Director: David Ayers
Writer: David Ayers
Cinematography: Roman Vasyanov
by Susan Bartley
“Best job I’ve ever had,” so the soldiers all say about 2/3’s into the movie, only to repeat the exact same exchange ten minutes later. It’s a commonly uttered phrase, which would have worked better if I actually knew what any of these men did it for a living prior to the war, allowing me to see how strange it is that they'd think a tank crew was better than their civilian job. But I didn't get any of that info.
Fury essentially is a countless collection of scenes from war and action movies, which tosses them into a blender, and wants to get a pat on the head for profundity and originality. Name a great war film from the last twenty-five years and there is something of that film in this.
The biggest issue is I’m not sure how this film's to be received? Is it supposed to be taken seriously in the style of Hamburger Hill, Saving Private Ryan, or When Trumpets Fade? Or is it simply a fun action piece, harking back to The Great Escape, Enemy at the Gates, or the The Dirty Dozen? I truly don’t know. The movie is so completely ridiculous, from the battles to the men’s actions and dialogues, that it has to fall on the latter category, though I’m fairly positive this wasn’t the intention.
The film's cringe level is fairly high, but oh how incredible are the one liners, with my personal favorite being - ‘Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.’ In the film's moments of earnest I found myself holding back a laugh, and in scenes of humor I couldn't break a smile. I kept thinking about my grandfather and the men he fought alongside in World War II and what they could have possibly thought of this film? I have a strong suspicion that they didn’t know too many young recruits who, for reason unknown, were tossed into a veteran crew, though only a typist moments before that. That is, a kid (Logan Lerman) who in the course of a day whines and cries about wanting to leave and how he can’t kill anyone only to, just hours later, be forced into shooting a Nazi prisoner, firing down a couple SS officers, and then having the miraculous courage to stick around during the film’s absolutely absurd concluding scene.
With whether or not to take this film seriously, here’s the problem the problem with the closing scene:
Again, I don't mind have these bends and twists in logic if the film is meant to be received as such. I just don't think it was. I think this was to be a Serious Film, and so massive plot holes and unrealistic actions are all the more significant. I can handle these types of absurdities in a John Woo film. But I have a strong suspicion David Ayer wanted us to take these men and their actions seriously. We don’t know anything about them, but we were suppose to care and regard them as heroes.
Of course, most modern WWII films are now compared to the big three: Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, and Band of Brothers. Films that set high precedents with developed characters, allowing us experience the action and fear, witness the horror, believe what was happening. Instead, all we get in Fury are cliches - the Southern idiot, the Bible quoter, the damaged commander, etc.
In another of Wardaddy’s heavy lines, he declares, ‘Wait 'til you see what another man can do to another’, which brings me to yet another piece of gross illogic and possible the most infuriating one. Wardaddy chooses to stay to kill as many Nazi’s as possible, even though he could have let them go, and the tank crew could’ve walked away. Thus, although Wardaddy expounds on the horrors of war, he contributes to these horrors in the most appalling way. David Ayers seems to take cue from the 1950s approach to WWII, in which all the Nazis are terrible, worthy of ruthless slaughter. We watch them get mowed down and it doesn’t matter, they’re all just objects to fall, bleed, and die, and we're rooting for the Good Guy Americans. And yet when Norman escapes and the horrible SS Officer finds him (with another in piece of illogic in that although he has a flashlight on Norman with about twenty soldiers walking behind him, easily able to see whatever this one ray of light in the night is shining upon, no one sees) the officer lets Norman go. What if that SS officer was killed by Wardaddy while storming down the hill? How many of these 'good' enemies were killed because Wardaddy decided to stay and fight, risking his men and killing hundreds, rather than getting help? And how could he have such a humanistic view on war and then choose to do any of this?
Ayers complete lack of awareness of the story's own hypocrisy is beyond frustrating. It’s one thing to celebrate soldiery. Lone Survivor (2013) did a fantastic job. It’s another to exaggerate the cost through offering a shallow exploration of the horrors of war, approaching the material with childish superficiality.
BELOW: 1 of 2 moments where they express how it's the best job they've ever had, knowing they're about to face 100s of enemy soldiers, when they could just go back for help
Thoughts on films, old and new
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