"The spectacular battles make Fury very watchable but the lack of any real plot outside of these scenes is the film's downfall"
Not a lot is achieved during Fury's 2-hour running time; it starts with the protagonists in a tank and ends with the protagonists in a tank. In the intervening scenes there is a skeleton-thin plot, little character development and barely a smidgen of glory, instead we are treated to a tank's-eye view of the dying days of the Second World War, presented as one of the grimmest views of the conflict ever seen in mainstream cinema. Brad Pitt stars as the tank's commander and is joined by a cast of Michael Peña, Logan Lerman, and Shia LaBeouf. Direction comes from the capable hands of David Ayer.
Following 24 hours in the life of a Sherman tank (nicknamed Fury), the film is very stripped back, showing its audience a little slice of war as opposed to a great big epic chunk. After losing their assistant driver, the crew—together for years and led by Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Pitt)—must push on towards Berlin with a new recruit who is as green as they come. The new kid, Norman (Lerman), soon learns that the last embers of the western front can still be fatally hot as the tank battles its way through Germany.
Director David Ayer's 2012 film End of Watch was a smartly written cop drama focusing on the relationship and dialogue between its protagonists, only falling flat when it resorted to gung-ho shootouts. On the surface it appears that Fury has simply exchanged the cop car for a tank but in reality, Fury feels like the total opposite of the director's previous work. End of Watch succeeded in portraying the intimate lives surrounding the film's violence but Fury forgoes characterisation and dialogue in favour of some intensely exciting firefights. The tension builds as the Sherman rumbles along, slowly turning in an attempt to outmanoeuvre its opponent.
The spectacular battles make Fury very watchable but the lack of any real plot outside of these scenes is the film's downfall. The whole cast are playing generic one-note characters, nobody really learns anything and nothing much is achieved. Many elements of the film also feel quite clichéd, disappointing as these moments grate with Fury's gritty exterior.
Fury is an exhilarating war film featuring tight, tense battles, but does little to instil itself among the canon of World War II movies. It is stimulating and easy to watch but in the end offers nothing that hasn't been seen before. It's brutal portrayal of the fighting on the western front is among the bleakest ever seen in blockbuster cinema however, this never feels quite enough to justify the film's existence.