FURY (2014): David Ayer's Descriptive—yet Uneven—Take on WWII


Hello again! Nothing to talk about my disappearance for about two months; life is getting me away from not only writing reviews but also watching movies (but I keep tweeting, ask why!). Half of the reasons has something to do with my effort to put myself together for the fact that finally GONE GIRL wasn’t coming into my country because of Ben Affleck’s dick the censorship; I think I should have predicted it so but the social-media folks were raising my expectation of its screening. Yeah, whatever.

And FURY is noted as the latest movie I saw on big screen (the last is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, time surely flies). War movies have never become my first option, but knowing that this might be the first next year’s Oscar contender screened here (who knows, the buzz is kept alive), I decided to give it a try.

It will be a challenge to describe FURY: it was World War II, in Germany. “Fury” itself is the name of a USA tank commanded by Sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt) with his crew: Bible (Shia Labeouf), Gordo (Michael Pena), Grady (Jon Bernthal), and the junior Norman (Logan Lerman). On a deadly mission right around Nazi military base, Wardaddy and his men are faced with the fact that they are outnumbered, outgunned, and overwhelmed by the rookie Norman who has no battling experience in the war field.


I am a bit surprised on how FURY depicted the violence of war (and how the censorship passes this film to local cinemas). It was brutal: you can see bodies (mostly with no complete anatomies) swept by the tanks until it is no longer shaped as a human body, blood-sputtering shooting, and all. (I have no idea why this dad sitting next to me brought his little sons to watch a movie with too much of a violence like this one). These details are the fuel that brings us viewers to the corner of our seats. Nothing is like jump-scare scenes but the thrill of seeing who will win a certain combat (and it’s mostly tank-versus-tank battle) is what keeps us ‘alive’ for more than two hours of its duration.

However, David Ayer seemed intending to put emotion more to FURY. He did not pen a narrative-structured screenplay for this movie; he preferred a descriptive take, perhaps like Sam Mendes’ JARHEAD except that JARHEAD is more of a military movie while FURY is more of a war movie. Viewers are taken into the situation of a war field, where the armies are no longer thinking about doing their job and getting paid (and deciding whether what they have done is right or wrong). Especially when they saw their friends are brutally killed, they have no time to mourn for it except to simply put a strategy and beat the enemies up. We are taken to see how they turned into a heartless killing machine.

That is why David Ayer uses Norman. Norman supposedly becomes our telescope to transfer the exact situation into our eyes and hearts. He is said to be a typist, has been serving for the military for only about eight weeks, and has no experience in war field. And seeing people killed or killing people is totally new for him and he has no guts to do the killing with his own hands, until Wardaddy, his mentor, dragged him to the center of the crowd and handed him a gun to shoot a caught German army right through his head.


But, I think, sometimes this method backfired the movie itself. Although it is so much applicable to bring heroism and moral lesson flesh-out, it makes itself less lingering. Like when they entered a surrendering town and take the things and furnitures out of the houses—and of course the women, because these armies were so craving for women—you can feel that everything comes so suddenly. The tension was cooling so significantly, in an unstructured way. It feels so uneven, and it takes a surprisingly good amount of duration.

Everything that comes after (and is affected by) this part puzzled me out. When I think about FURY again, all I can recall is fragments of the movie instead of a full-duration movie where every part is connected to each other tidily from the beginning till the end. Yes, each of these fragments successfully and vividly brings the atmosphere of a war (and of course a dull moral lesson saying that no war is intended for any good) but it is hard to recollect them as a solid movie.


All I can say is, no matter how much philosophy- and religion-related dialogues to make the war feels sensible to these almost-immoral armies or how exciting the combats and the bombings, David Ayer didn’t maximize FURY to its possible strength. I appreciate how it invites us to feel the war with solid setting details and bold violence, but it fails to linger. (Don’t even start an argument about how biased and one-sided the establishments of history the movie made as a ground was). It is a good one-shoot entertainment, especially for you who enjoy the smell of heroism in the field of war.

2014 / Action, Drama, War / 134 mins / R

cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena,
Jon Bernthal, Shia Labeouf

written & directed by David Ayer

Akbar Saputra

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