War is hell, but in case you had forgotten, along comes Fury to remind you. With scene after scene of unending, relentless brutality the best moments of the film feature ferociously nail biting tank fights, but you’ll have to endure long, stagey moments of bromance and brooding to actually see those.

Set during WW2 in Germany during the fierce final days of the war, it allows director David Ayer, who first found fame as the writer of cop based dramas such as Training Day and the original The Fast and the Furious, to extend his working canvas manifold and tell a more ambitious tale. Sadly, these ambitions are never realized for Fury is composed of nearly every conceivable war movie cliché – from the disillusioned, cynical leader of a group of soldiers (Brad Pitt as ‘Wardaddy’) to fraternal bonding during moments of crisis to the bible quoting soldier in their midst and even Ayer’s forte, the idealistic rookie who will be forever transformed.

This last cliché is where the film chooses to focus all its creative energy. In the character of Norman, a clerk who is asked to become the gunner of a tank (lovingly called Fury and from where the film gets its title), Wardaddy, as the feared and equally revered tough disciplinarian, finds an opportunity to teach some hard lessons about life’s ugly truth. The films entire purposes then becomes to break Norman’s timidity but the way this is done is laughable – from the forced execution of Nazi soldiers to letting him find his manhood when they come across two comely girls. Norman is such a bad war archetype that its completely unsurprising to find that he plays the piano with more confidence than he uses a gun. This rite of passage turns Norman into a man – and soon enough he is grunting “Fucking Nazi’s” while ploughing down a handful of them from the confines of his surrogate tank home.

Brad Pitt, always an assured presence onscreen, is shown in close-ups that reveal the scars of countless battles, but we never learn who he is. Instead of becoming mysterious or enigmatic he just seems constipated. In trying to channel the angry but loving father figure from Tree of Life, Ayer utilizes Pitt insultingly. Its plotless momentum exacerbates the films laziness. There is essentially no story, beyond the hokey character transformations, which themselves are one-dimensional and one-sided because none of the battle-hardened soldiers learn any restraint from their association with the coy Norman.

Fury somehow manages to become stimulating during the expertly staged scenes where mighty tanks face-off, but the heavy dosage of ultra violence turns even this into genre war porn. There is no unexpected conflict of character or a crisis situation that you can’t see from miles away and the film as a whole remains largely indifferent to the legacy of the pivotal moment of human history in which it’s set. As an empty Saving Private Ryan knock-off, the only thing Fury can do is leave us pondering over it’s insincere, phoney line “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent”. Yeah right.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆


About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and wearethemovies.com