FURY Is A Bad Movie with Great Action

FURY, with Brad Pitt is coming to Amazon Prime this month. This two hour and fourteen minute World War II movie released in 2014 falls easily into the “Gritty Combat” category. It’s a bad movie with great combat sequences. Please feel free to take the polls at the end of the review to have your say on this movie!

The biggest reasons to watch FURY would be the action scenes. It’s also well filmed, well directed, well paced and well acted. It looks and feels like World War II and has some great effects. We’ve only seen this kind of graphic brutality in Saving Private Ryan. On the downside, you can fairly call this movie deeply cynical and humorless. It’s excessively dark and has heavy use of War Movie Tropes. It’s a mixed bag at best.

They just don’t have enough tanks for a straight up mass armored combat movie, so the movie wisely places the story at the very front of the front. It’s set in early spring of 1945 as the allies are progressing through Germany. It’s the very last days of the war. We see one combat scene where a few US tanks take on and pummel some German Infantry and another where a platoon of US Shermans mix it up with a German Tiger that goes less well. The movie features a few visually great combat scenes.

As an owner of this movie I was initially a fan. The second viewing was an education though. Since then I’ve come to consider it a heavy handed ‘amorality tale’ with enough action and good acting to make it to the credits still seeming ok. It’s actually a pretty dark and possibly unnecessary movie.

The story revolves around Norman, a replacement thrown in with a combat hardened crew of the Sherman tank they’ve named FURY. This is a good idea, if a bit too much like Saving Private Ryan. Newbie Norman needs to be bought quickly up to speed and it is a nice way to meet ‘War-Daddy’ Brad Pitt and the crew in an economic amount of time.

When the actual fighting stops this movie just shows dark exchanges and people being given orders they know are highly dangerous. The writers give Brad Pitt the ability to speak and understand German for no real reason. The terrible lines they give him in German look so bad subtitled on screen that you start to appreciate that Brad Pitt is in fact a really good actor. The dialogue is always awful.

FURY is darker and grimmer than most any other war movie I’ve seen. It’s very fatalistic, beyond the normal fatalism of soldiers in World War II movies. In the end they take on what seems to amount to a suicide mission. There’s plenty of evidence of similar encounters, so its not really far fetched that Americans would fight that hard or be willing to die to protect a field hospital. Still, the crew of the FURY aren’t overly cool or even that real. They never truly seem like friends- they hero worship War Daddy while merely tolerating one another. They are super gloomy and have only one cool line (Best Job I EVER had!). These guys are not so much warriors as killers. The movie tell us they’ve just been at it too long.

Then there’s the terrible things about the movie that come in the non-combat vignettes. We get Norman laid so he can see his ‘girlfriend’ die. We stop to see a bunch of nazis who shot themselves and spend more time contemplating their deaths than any comrades. We tell Norman how not to fuck-up so he can anyway… a couple of times. The movies tight timeframe isn’t really a problem, it’s almost a little too long as it is. Three of the characters sort of work and Shia LeBouf is actually amazing- but the story is wooden and dark. FURY is really disturbing for no good reason. I recommend you just shuttle through and watch the action.

Why is it bad? There’s three huge problems.

The first and most persistent is the movie is filled with graphic suicides. As World War II movies go I’ve never seen one that takes place in Europe with so many suicides, usually that kind of thing is reserved for movies where the Imperial Japanese are the enemy. Thinking on it, this movie may have more suicides than any other war movie, including Letters From Iwo Jima.

For the most part these are not heroic suicides where someone holds off the enemy because their friends will die if they don’t, either. They’re all pretty disturbing. Some are to escape pain while others are to show how desperate the Germans are. We just spend too much too much time talking about and seeing this.

We also get an outright murder that comes after a long time menacing (or maybe even torturing) a German prisoner who’s begging for his life. It’s completely unjustified even though the movie seems to tell us it’s for a good reason. It was pure anger that got the prisoner killed. Later Brad Pitt snuffs a Nazi who someone reliably tells him is forcing children to fight. This prisoner is far less sympathetic, but this trend sure seems unmilitary. The Americans are just hard as nails in this movie and we don’t see them helping people to make them more likeable.

When your Good Vs Evil War Movie has really hardcore good guys who wantonly kill prisoners you start blurring a line. In this case the enemy is the Nazis, so going for any kind of moral ambiguity is a tough sell. After the needless War Crime we just move on.

This movie could have used some dark humor jokes, if there are any they fail and seem like mean quipping. FURY is focused on war and combat, maybe to a fault. I don’t recall one light moment. There are no jokes in this movie and the ‘Bonding’ moment is after a de facto suicide pact. Even in quiet moments conversations center on the enjoyment the crew take in killing. Sure they try to call it all back by briefly mentioning they wish they hadn’t had to fight at all, but its too little too late.

Shia LeBouf’s annoying Jesus-freak, War Daddy and Norman are the only somewhat real people in this movie. They might only pull this off by accumulating a lot of screen time. In this war movie the characters know they’re in a movie and use some of the ‘rules’ to try to get through it alive. I can’t recall anyone blatantly trying to get killed by talking too much about home, if they do anything that endangers people in War Movies it’s staring wistfully into the distance. There’s a lot of that.

The next problem is a lot of the time the ‘enemy’ are psychotic Nazi children. So while DOWNFALL may have as many suicides, this movie beats it in dead children. One of Norman’s fuck ups combines the movies two biggest issues. When he fails kill a child that child takes out a tank and kills its crew, one of whom is able to burn long enough to end it all with his pistol.

It’s horrific but early enough in the movie to seem like this might just be how we teach Norman to shoot when ordered. No such luck, we spend a lot of time beating Norman up and regarding how horrible the result of his lack of action was. That’s when Brad Pitt forces Norman to murder a prisoner to redeem himself. These are our Good Guys? To make sure we never feel any sense of triumph FURY makes sure to show the aftermath of Nazis executing children anytime we move from place to place. We see children hung by the roadside for not fighting more. The screen is filled with ghoulish images.

The last issue is the movies a little too contrived and not the most convincing chain of events. It’s also not overly immersive. The movie knows it though and it doesn’t make you wait between action scenes for too long- the urban night fight is the best example of this.

The crew lost me with their dialogue and unamusing cynicism. When we’re not fighting they don’t seem like heroes, and this would be fine if they actually weren’t more like dicks on the second viewing. Maybe soldiers do act that way, but for an army winning consistently to be so rife with fatalistic depression? An ‘almost rape scene’ doesn’t help you like the FURY crew much either. I found it hard to root for anyone in the crew. The only admirable trait the crew has is they’re engaged in a just cause against an evil enemy.

The final combat sequence is visually amazing. It’s also overly cute and throws plot devices at you left and right. Historian Stephen Ambrose makes much of the fact he has an unsubstantiated hunch the slaves forced to make the nazis weapons were not motivated and may have been sabotaging them. It makes perfect sense and might be true, but the misfire rate the Germans suffer from in the final battle is just ridiculous. It’s also conveniently confined to the only weapons that can destroy the eponymous tank.

The overall tone of this movie is on par with The Pianist, but that story might actually have a touch more optimism. It certainly has much more humanity despite it’s even darker topic. Only DOWNFALL and Schindler’s List are really in the same ballpark. The problem for FURY is that all three of those movies have much better endings and the advantage of being considered true enough.

FURY is kind of a long movie but it ends before you can think about it too much. You probably will be mostly thinking of the action and forgetting the forgettable parts too- which is good for FURY’s rep. This movie was reviewed way too generously back in 2014. The reason is because terrorist threats against movie theaters by the idiot dictator of North Korea had all movies underperforming. Critics seemingly just felt bad.

Good combat scenes go a long way, though. Rotten Tomatoes absolutely disagrees with me. All I can say is the action may have bailed this movie out. There’s movies that are no better with much worse Rotten Tomatoes scores. FURY’s story is outright maudlin in it’s approach. It may be too gritty and too ‘real’ for it’s character’s to be heros. They see civilians and talk about what they can get from them. We never see the things that humanize soldiers. They never give a liberated child some food or a blanket, for instance. Never once is the crew of the FURY proud of their cause. They fight because it’s their job and say so.

MIDWAY 2019 is a good comparison. It’s about as good or better and has some of the same problems. Neither script is good but MIDWAY is not well acted (except for Mandy Moore) and it’s immediately apparent. Midway has far more effects and is a grander scale, but in the end both are combat movies. MIDWAY has a pretty accurate visual portrayal of several major battles and the battle of Midway with the real heros as the characters. The first successful attack on the Japanese carrier was a better payoff then FURY. When the shooting starts the movies are just as good. In MIDWAY we have well defined good and bad guys. The bad guys are formidable, but still evil. In FURY the jaded Good Guys would fit right in with the German’s if they didn’t hate them already.

In the non combat sequences MIDWAY somewhat makes the code-breaking work but not personal lives of the soldiers. MIDWAY thinks its a better movie than it is. FURY, on the other hand, knows it’s sort of a bad movie. FURY keeps your attention by having the bad dialogue and poor character interactions occur during moments of cynical brutality.It’s gripping but not really good.

At least Midway didn’t make me wonder who the good guys were and didn’t have to break its own narrative about the enemy to grope for a botched ‘Happy Ending.” These movies are about the same as far as being good or bad. Both are best shuttled through for the action, though Midway is a less painful view and showed me less abject horror. Both movies did well with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, but charitable reviews and Brad Pitt’s sheer charisma fool us just enough for FURY to have respectability. Midway had me cheering at one point and I tolerated the bad parts looking at the 1940’s aesthetic and the CGI and practical ‘war porn’ equipment. Its essentially the plot of Star Wars A New Hope on a metalevel with the Japanese carriers serving as the Death Star. I felt good when the Americans avenged themselves. Then Midway still takes out one more brief moment to help us understand the enemy before they’re deservedly vanquished, in part by their pride, but mostly by their hyper-aggressive plan.

You might power through one view of FURY, but contemplating this movie will show it’s just not that good.

War is ugly and so is this movie. No Western European World War II movie has ever been this grim. This has a World War I level of fatalism.

Everything in this movie probably happened at some point to one group or another over the course of World War II, but this movie covers about 48 rough hours of grim, hellish frontline combat. It does this part well and you might be cheering like it’s a football game, because there’s absolutely glorification of death. These are sort of horrible soldiers. Since they’re totally fictional I’ll just say we’re probably lucky didn’t make it. They liked to kill people too much to not end up in jail.

Just watch the action scenes.

Thanks for reading and indulging my perspective. I care about your perspective as well; you can comment right here! I hope you enjoyed this review, please consider following this blog here on WordPress. The Twitter for TRM is @CaptainTeag

By Captain Teag

Welcome Aboard! The Captain logs reviews of Pop Culture, movies and TV, Disney, MCU, DCEU, Star Trek, Star Wars, War Movies and MORE! Feel free follow and join my motley crew! Today the we Sail the Ship into History! After 10 years I think I'm finally getting the hang of this! Likes GREATLY Appreciated! CHEERS!

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