Movie Review - Fury (2014)
Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) co-stars as Norman Ellison, an army clerk who is assigned to be the gunner in the Sgt.'s tank. He has no field training. He seems as if he's never even handled a gun. He's certainly never killed a man, yet he's pushed to become a brutal murdering machine by day's end.
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) plays Boyd Swan, the man who fires the cannon. He's nicknamed "Bible" because he quotes the Holy Book from memory and has a strong belief in Jesus Christ.
Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) plays Grady Travis, the weapon-loader and mechanic who's nicknamed "Coon-Ass." It's assumed because he's Cajun, or it could be because he's a Louisiana redneck. He at times acts like a raccoon or a brute.
Michael Peña (Crash) plays Trini Garcia aka "Gordo." He drives the tank and is also a backup gunner. He's obviously Hispanic who annoys the Sgt. with his speaking Spanish. He's somewhere in between Boyd and Grady in terms of personality.
There are four battle sequences involving the Sgt.'s tank, which has been branded "Fury." Each one is harrowing and exciting. Each is nasty and dirty, bloody and riddled with explosions that feel real and heavy.
In a way, the film, directed by David Ayer, reminded me of Glory (1989), except this piece didn't feel like it wanted to comment on the war or the context, even though Ayer's screenplay seems ripe to explore the ideas of Christian mercy and grace. There are potential and prime examples of each, but they end up being dashes of flavor on what's mainly a display of male camaraderie through the embracing of death and more specifically through killing.
Aside from a land mine the tank hits at one point, the film hits a narrative land mine. Half-way through the film, the Sgt. takes Norman into the apartment on a street that their tank has just bombarded with destruction. The Sgt. realizes two women are in the apartment. The Sgt. brandishes his rifle to get the women to do what he wants.
Obviously, the women are terrified. At one point, the Sgt. tells Norman to take the younger of the two women named Emma into the bedroom. This is after he removes his shirt and threatens that if Norman doesn't do it, then the Sgt. will. The obvious implication is that the Sgt. would rape that girl.
Norman seems to realize this, so he takes her into the bedroom and closes the door. We assume that he does so to spare her. Yet, without showing the act in total, the next edit and following scene lead us to believe that Norman did have sex with her. This means that he in effect did what the Sgt. threatened and he raped her. It's clear that Emma didn't scream or physically fight him, but, given the situation, what escape did she hope to have? Capitulation was probably her best option.
Now, besides the moral objection, I don't think it adds much. If anything, it contradicts the later idea that the tank is the Sgt.'s home. If Ayer wants to depict American soldiers as rapists, that's fine because sexual assault has been a serious issue lately within the ranks. The problem is Ayer tries to twist this situation, which is a hostage and rape situation, into a romantic one and the tone between the two things and the transition between the two are just wrong and offensive.
One Star out of Five.
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 14 mins.