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Review: Fury – “My favourite war movie ever”

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Brad Pitt;Shia LaBeouf;Logan Lerman;Michael Pena;Jon Bernthal

The One Where Brad Pitt Drags My Sorry Ass Out Of Retirement

Prologue: (Skip to Chapter 1 for the actual film review. The prologue is essentially about me making love to a beautiful woman).

Well, it’s been a while. Thankfully, writing film reviews is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman – so I’m back in the saddle. Or back in the tank more pertinently. With five sweating men in a way that couldn’t be less-gay. Because Nazis are encroaching on us, and the thumping score has just merged seamlessly with their Nazi war songs.

A lots happened since I’ve been away. The worlds changed. Young bucks have come and gone. Writing about films, while I sat and watched. From a distance. Stroking a white cat, whilst sat in an over sized chair. Regretting the day I didn’t go all out and buy a La-z-boy.

So what’s dragged me back from the pits of despair? From my gaming chair, where I’ve gradually become so immersed in controlling giant mech Titan things, I think it’s strange when I don’t see one walking the quiet streets of Chichester?

Well, unsurprisingly, it was a man. Surprisingly said man wasn’t Ryan Gosling, who I still carry a massive torch for. Not a torch so big it would weigh me down, as that would be impractical and dangerous. No – a torch big enough for him to see it, should he ever look my way. A torch so….. Sorry. I’m not sure where I was going with that either. Much like making love to a beautiful woman I need to trust my instincts a bit more. (Not when making love, I meant the getting back to film writing analogy I was using).

To stress. I have no issues making love to beautiful women.

Fuck, I’m so out of practice.

Chapter One: The Reason Why You Need To See Fury, And Stop The Ayer Hating

Look, let’s cut to the chase. Brad Pitt brought me back. And he has a message for you. Stop avoiding Fury because you don’t like David Ayer. It’s massively unfair, and also clearly the wrong thing to do.

Far better reviewers have compared Fury to Cross Of Iron. And you know that’s high praise as its a Sam Peckinpah comparison – and you don’t get many of those these days.

I actually think it’s more akin to The Wild Bunch. And I don’t say that lightly at all.

The whole film reeks of these guys making a last stand. The film carefully creates the run up to that cross roads, so you actually care about the people when they get there.

And say what you like about Saving Private Ryan, but I’m not sure you can say that about it. Of course my love/hate relationship with that film is more down to Tom Hanks’ best ever turn being overlooked. But hey, if they’re going to do that with Apollo 13 too, why not? And Ryan is just a default “BEST WAR MOVIE EVER” to most, I find. Is it really better than Thin Red Line? Is it really a better depiction of a band of brothers, than…. Say, Hamburger Hill, or even Three Kings?

Fury is a smart, smart film. I’m sure Ayer himself knows that’s a tough sell, as as much as I loved Sabotage (criminally underrated), Ayer’s name is becoming a turn off for a lot of people. End of Watch has people scared he’ll shaky-cam the hell out of you.

I don’t think anyone goes to see a “David Ayer film”. In fact, most probably avoid it. Even the picture of a giant tank has most people thinking it’s an undercover cop film. As that’s his tag now, I think. “Shaky-cam-Dave”, they’ll call him. Oh look, they’ll shout. It’s Dave, who likes convoluted side plots, and graphic bullet wounds.

And that ain’t fair. Know what’s unfair, though?

If Spielberg had done this, people would be frothing at the mouth.

Instead, we’re left with a film that won’t even get Oscar noms for film or Pitt. Which in a few years time will seem as ridiculous to you, as it does to me now. Shia does more here than several best supporting actors have ever done, and won’t get a look in. Because he’s Shia.

And Ayer for Director? Ain’t happening. Because he’s not Ridley Scott and, as much as I love him, by the way, he may want to label some helmets up so we have a clue who’s who in Black Hawk Down. And he may want to keep the camera still enough for us to get some sense of geography.

Or maybe not. Maybe I want too much from my war movies. Maybe wanting scenes of Mel Gibson going to church pre-battle aren’t for everyone. (That’s a We Were Soldiers reference by the way. Bet you haven’t seen that in a way/never?)

War movies are a funny bunch. I love tons of them. Platoon? Glorious. And iconic – a real glimpse into growing up – and my burgeoning obsession with film starting. *That* cover? I couldn’t take my eyes off Dad’s VHS.

Full Metal Jacket? Tortuous and poetic at the same time.

Ryan (Private, not Gosling)? Incredible opening and closing, with some walking in the middle. (Sacrilege eh? Can’t say it for LOTR, if you don’t say it for Ryan. Fact.)

Fury deserves to be right up there. Someone said to me today it’s only the action that made me say that.

Couldn’t be more wrong, Luka. Couldn’t be more wrong. The best scene in Fury – and there’s many – has no fighting at all.

It’s not the scene where Pitt goes away from him men as he thinks he’s going to break down (that’s a close third).

It’s not the finale – all shock and awe – and thunderous bass. (That’s a close second, and shows 1) I was right to rig the house up with Sonos for the impending Blu Ray release and 2) Ayer can *do* action).

It’s not even the soon to be iconic opening shot of white horse trudging through mud before impending sneak attach from Pitt. Knife in the eye? Check. One minute in. This film ain’t for the feint of heart.

Nope. The scene that outright spelt out this was a classic was set at a dinner table. After putting the fear of God in me that Pitt and his young protege were going to force themselves on the two girls, his crew turn up. And they’re vile. They put their feet up (it’s the girls’ apartment after all). They spit in the food. They swear. They’re the worst dinner guests imaginable. Worse even than the out-laws (in laws) turning up unannounced… Winky face.

They’re awful.

And all because Pitt has taken this young buck under his wings. And he wants to teach him some life lessons. Some that thankfully aren’t man handling him and making him, physically *making him*, make his first kill.

And also because Pitt won’t let the men have their way with Emma, the young girl who’s just made a man of said young buck.

So you have this dynamic. All of the team are pissed off at Pitt. Pitt is pissed off at them. And you’re not sure where it’s going.

So Pena (excellent as ever) starts telling a tale about one of their first trips together. Just after D-Day as it happens. About how they killed horses by shooting them in the spines. And Pitt is unmoved but let’s them tell the tale. Shia (seriously excellent), cries and you realise they’ve seen things they’ll never recover from.

Two minutes earlier Pitt had his shirt off and the front is Tyler Durden as we’d all hope. And the back is pure Freddy Kruger. Burnt and bruised and bloodied. Because Pitt has lived and he’s been through every battle scene imaginable.

It’s never mentioned but we glimpse it in the mirror. And Pitt isn’t ashamed or proud. It’s just how his back is now. He’s learnt to live with it.

Ayer dedicates a good fifteen to twenty minutes to this set up. To the young buck love. To the dinner. And we forget we’re watching a war film. We forget they just executed an SS warrior in the streets.

We forget that Pitt could be Aldo Raines if Tarantino had done half the characterisation that Ayer has done here. (Not knocking Basterds, just cutting Ayer some slack in the writing department). I think the dinner scene is Tarantino worthy and I don’t say that lightly at all.

It belongs in another film – but is pivotal to this film, too.

And that’s why I fell in love with Fury. And why, impetuous as ever, I claimed it to be my favourite war movie ever. Because it reaches for more. And for the first time in a long time, it makes me believe that when Pitt looks up in a glorious shot and sees several planes doing battle, that those planes could be from Red Tails. And that the soldiers marching in the distance could be marching into a scene from any other WW2 film. And that’s not a criticism that this is just another war film. It’s the complete opposite. This is a film that makes me believe they’re all tied together. And it makes me believe that Private Ryan might actually be worth saving.

We got there in the end. Hopefully you make it to Fury. Or at least get some Sonos in for the impending steel case Blu Ray. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to Phil for letting me write again, when it would’ve been easier to just delete me from the email trails. If nothing else, it’s taken my mind off The Babadook, which is possibly the most disturbing film I’ve ever seen.

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