The Only Way to Live is to Die in FURY – Movie Review
There’s no place for good men in the cinematic world of writer-director David Ayer. To survive is to be bad, and the only thing worth living for is the bond between a team. Anything outside of that group needs to die. With Fury, Ayer takes his Sam Peckinpah meets Walter Hill mentality to the nth degree. In case anyone wasn’t sure about Ayer’s intentions, the first scene in the film features Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) stabbing a Nazi soldier through the skull.
It’s April 1945, and the Allies are moving through Germany on the way to Berlin. Hitler has declared total war, calling on every man, woman and child to fight. Leading the way for the soldiers is a small group of tanks, one of which is commanded by Wardaddy and happens to be named Fury. His tight-knit crew includes Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) and Gordo (Michael Pena). All them are tired, dirty and a shell of whatever they were before the war. Everyone is, except for the fresh-faced new recruits, like Norman (Logan Lerman), who joins Wardaddy’s crew. Norman is still full of high ideals, even after he’s initiated into the group by having to clean the face of the man he replaced off the inside of the tank.
There’s not much of a plot in Fury; for most of the film, the tank just moves further into Germany, but that’s sort of the point. Ayer is more concerned with how war infiltrates every pore of those fighting it, and how there’s no escape from the horrors. Wardaddy even tries to have a civilized moment at a dinner table in a liberated town, only to have his boorish crew march in. Despite his refusal that they’ll ruin his meal, their barbaric behavior and stories of war do just that. And how could it not?
The violence in Fury is unrelenting. People meet all sorts of grisly, graphic and shocking ends at the hand of men, machines, even children. Not since Saving Private Ryan has a movie been so blunt and direct with violence, and it is terrifying. Early in the film, a gun-shy Norman is forced to murder a German soldier, for no other reason than Wardaddy needs to know he can do it.
Ayer is aiming to make something akin to Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, even going so far as to insinuate it’s better to die in glory fighting in battle than surviving, but in the end, Fury can’t lift itself up to that high of a level. At least Fury has loftier aspirations than showing robots fighting on screen, but what starts off as a brutal examination of men in war, finds itself forced into a plot eerily similar to Saving Private Ryan.
War is most certainly hell in Fury, but it’s also the only way to live…and die.