World War II as a Video Game: The Failure of “Fury”December 13, 2014
I take a back seat to no one in my fondness for World War II movies. This is a unique Hollywood genre: no other has grown from propaganda to realism and back to hagiography. Many of the movies made during the war itself were designed to build up morale. Once the war ended, it fell from favor until 1949. In that year films dealing with the conflict such as Battleground, Command Decision and Twelve O’Clock High depicted a more believable version of events. Saving Private Ryan in 1998 brought back the WWII movie for modern audiences with varying degrees of success. The one thing all the most successful war movies have dealt with is the commitment to a greater cause, the willingness to risk one’s life for that cause, and the need to come to grips with that sacrifice by the survivors afterward.
It is the total lack of such perspective that makes Fury such a disappointment. The recent release about a tank crew deep in Germany during the last month of the war in Europe has an interesting idea: a unit tries to survive a war they all know is about to end. Their sergeant (Brad Pitt) has promised to keep them safe and sound but one of their crew was recently killed; it’s obvious that the men question whether they might not make it as well. Sounds compelling but writer-director David Ayer forgot to craft a story to fit his characters. This leaves the audience trying to make sense of events.
A problematic set piece in which a pair of German women who are forced to “entertain” the crew leads us to conclude at least two of the American soldiers are rapists and maybe future murderers back in the U.S. Even worse is the many battle scenes that feel more like video game violence than anything like real life. They are too generic and CGI-heavy to have any great impact. The conflict between commitment to a cause and a desire to live never comes into play, leaving the audience with a distasteful, unsatisfying result. This is disappointing given Pitt’s recent run of excellent, adult films such as Moneyball and 12 Years A Slave; this is a big step back for him. For anyone who wants to understand what World War II did to the men who fought it, check out The Story of GI Joe, Saving Private Ryan or even The Dirty Dozen; don’t waste any time with Fury.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Senior Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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