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Study Break: ‘Fury’ review

Trevor Whitney

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Photo by Sony Pictures via Bloomberg

Thanks to a relentless, scorched-earth advertising campaign, it is easy for one to feel as though they’ve already seen “Fury” before they ever walk into the theater.

The predictable, formulaic plot, where inexperienced newcomer Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is forced to come to terms with a new reality under the begrudging guidance of grizzled veteran Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), is reminiscent of “Fight Club,” while Pitt’s swaggering, Nazi-killing caricature draws inevitable comparisons to his role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”

More explicitly, “Fury” draws a great amount from the 1943 film “Sahara,” starring Humphrey Bogart. “Sahara” tells the story of a small band of men with a single tank fighting off hordes of German soldiers. But it takes place in Africa, so it’s completely different.

With broad, expensive-looking scenery and a premise functioning as a retread of “Saving Private Ryan,” “Fury” never really manages to feel plausible. Despite its impressive attention to detail from the era, the film refuses to commit to a single idea or metaphor, combining the ever-popular “war is hell” motif with the less common, but still overdone, “one man vs. too many.”

Rounding out the ensemble cast are Shia LaBeouf, who seems to have come out of retirement for this tour-de-force; I’m just happy he kept his clothes on for this role.

Michael Pena is also present, which seems to be a blatant overture to Hispanic viewers. Jon Bernthal, known for his portrayal of Shane in “The Walking Dead,” is great as Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis, but seems to be another blatant overture, this time to fanboys or girls.

Logan Lerman of the “Percy Jackson” franchise and Russell Crowe’s on-screen son Ham in the film “Noah,” is well-suited for the wide-eyed newcomer role.

The film’s director, David Ayer, also wrote the movie. He deserves praise as a director for historical accuracy and his ability to craft intense action scenes that will blow viewers away.

Just like his previous films, “End of Watch,” “Training Day” and “The Fast and the Furious,” “Fury” keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. However, it fails to develop relatable, deep characters.

The lack of meaningful substance between action scenes makes the film’s overall success a long shot. It tries to navigate a genre-specific mine field that few escape from alive.

The biggest problem with “Fury,” which finishes at just over two hours, is that it feels very, very long.

After seeing this movie, one can fully empathize with the plight of the German people at the close of the war — at least in terms of their suffering and desperation for it to end. And when “Fury” does come to a screeching halt, some viewers might be disappointed that they shelled-out the money to see it.

But those viewers’ dads will almost certainly enjoy this movie. And in a few years, “Fury” will become a forgotten relic, joining “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Platoon” and “Pearl Harbor” in the Memorial Day movie marathons on cable television.

Trevor Whitney can be reached at [email protected] or @nicegrandmas on Twitter.

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Study Break: ‘Fury’ review