‘Fury’ not just another war movie

Home is where the action is, and where loyalties lie, for Brad Pitt in Fury. Photo/Moviepilot
Home is where the action is, and where loyalties lie, for Brad Pitt in Fury. Photo/Moviepilot

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ury, the new World War II drama-cum-Brad Pitt vehicle, from writer/director David Ayer (Training Day) rolled into theaters this weekend, and it has more than enough force to do battle with Gone Girl.

Not a Nick Fury solo film (sadly), instead the story of Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt), commander of a battle-hardened tank and her ragtag crew (Shia LeBeouf, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal) during the Allied Invasion of Germany in 1945. The film starts after one of their buddies has just been killed in action — his corpse occupying his post along with them. To replace him, they are stuck with young Norman (Logan Lerman), a typist who has never been on the frontline until now.

The trailer would have you believe Fury is about fighters stranded at a crossing who have to hold the line, Alamo style. In fact, that doesn’t come until much later in the narrative. The plot really centers around Wardaddy and his relationship with his comrades, specifically Norman, whom he has to acclimate to the horrors and sacrifices of war the hard way.

It has gory moments but the movie has been talked about for a host of other reasons. A lot is being said about the tank battles (which are impressive), and the film manages to make the war machines substantive characters in their own right. During a faceoff with a much more powerful (and quite modern-looking) German tank, for example, we don’t see the enemy occupants, only hear them from inside shouting commands.

Another sticking point is the echoes of prior war movies, from Saving Private Ryan to Inglourious Basterds (more for the presence of Pitt and less the humor). While Fury is bound to remind you of those and a hundred others, it stands on its own just fine. (Honestly, anybody who doesn’t care for it is either a genre buff who’s seen it all before, or someone who doesn’t really like war movies to begin with. They are less your target audience than those who want to see more guy flicks at the box office.)

Where the film ultimately draws its energy is from the human element. Pitt is strong in his role as an ersatz father figure to callow softy Lerman, and their battalion. Quiet moments between gunfights — when Wardaddy has to rally them, keep them in line, or take a moment alone because he’s too proud to let others see him suffer — offer greater depth for these characters.

You may find it familiar, but Fury holds interest regardless (though it is long). It might even make up for Expendables 3 if you saw that, and found it lacking. If Fury bombs, chances are it won’t be in the sense of flopping.