Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Film Review: Fury (2014)

Much of Fury can be described as a ham-handed, badly acted and poorly-written rehash of Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. The action sequences (with one notable exception) are impressively noisy and bloody, even gripping at times, but at it's heart this is a western, the kind in which our American heroes/gunslingers have to face off against hordes of Mexicans or Native Americans in a final climactic battle. Think of it as The Wild Bunch with tanks.

The tank commander, "Wardaddy", is played by Brad Pitt. It's a preening, scenery-chewing performance that shows what happens when a megastar isn't held in check by the director. Pitt doesn't create a character, he strikes a variety of poses and attitudes from every macho action film he's ever seen. The script does him no favours because he, along with the other four members of the tank crew, are products of a special key on the lazy scriptwriter's keyboard; it's a function key that automatically creates macho male characters who swear, argue, brawl, bicker, swear, spit, swear, kill, swear, weep copiously over the deaths of buddies (with extra swearing), drink hard, and finally die in a Twilight of the Gods firefight. It's homoerotic porn for gun nuts. David Ayer, the writer and director, goes the extra mile by making his main characters so frantically manly and tough they become loathsome. Aside from the wet behind the ears newbie, the rest of crew, including Pitt's character, are just cursing windbags of testosterone-addled idiocy. In a bit of clunky writing Ayer tries to explain their bestiality by saying that their long service at the front has brutalized them. OK, that was almost an original thought forty years ago. We get it, David, war is hell and you don't win battles with Boy Scouts. Moving on...

Fury would be just another slack-jawed action movie but for one notably offensive sequence that lumbers on stage at about the halfway point. Our "heroes" have taken a small German town, and Wardaddy and the newbie, called Norman, force their way into a home occupied by a woman and her teenaged female cousin. The threat or prospect of rape hangs heavy in the air. That's fine, because history tells us Allied troops did rape German women; not to the degree invading Russian troops did, but it certainly happened. The women are clearly terrified that one or both of them is going to be assaulted. Instead, Wardaddy, who speaks German, tells the older woman to cook for them. A short time later, however, Wardaddy tells Norman to take the young girl into the next room and screw her or he'll do it. A semi-reluctant Norman goes into a bedroom with the girl and does some kind of half-assed palm reading on her. She doesn't speak English and Norman doesn't have any German, but she's evidently so charmed, so smitten by these few seconds of interaction with her potential rapist she happily and enthusiastically has sex with him. WTF? What we have here is a rape fantasy, plain and simple. The female character is being coerced/forced into sex, but because her rapist shows a molecule of charm, she magically becomes eager for sex. And just to complete the fantasy aspect, the girl is gorgeous. The terrors and privations of Germany in 1945 haven't diminished her lingerie-model good looks one iota.

This sour, nasty scene is followed by a finale in which a couple of hundred SS troops launch an assault on Fury (the tank's name) and her crew. Wardaddy and Co. are all that stand between the Germans and an Allied supply depot. This action setpiece fits comfortably with your father's idea of what a World War Two movie should be like: the Germans lineup in an orderly fashion so that the good guys can mow them down in the most efficient manner possible. The Germans must have been scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel in 1945 because these guys have less tactical sense than the average paintball player. They stand in the open and fire rifles and machine guns at a tank. A tank! And then they look surprised when they're blown to smithereens. This last battle is doubly disappointing because some of the earlier tank fights are quite well done. Oh, well. At this point I was just grateful that I was seeing almost all the crew members meet a bloody end.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

I didn't really like Fury but then I don't think I was included in its target audience.