“Wars are not won by evacuation…”
“Is that what I’m supposed to tell your mother when she gets another folded American flag…”
“We’re not supposed to be friends, you and me. We’re meant to be enemies…”
‘There are big days and there are small days, which will it be?’
‘Sitting around miserable all day won’t make you any happier…’
War is Hell…
After the recent success of of hyper realistic but super boring war films such as Zero Dark Thirty, End of Watch director David Ayer goes back to basics to make an old school war film.
Fury focuses on one five man crew and it is the ensemble cast of Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and The Walking Dead’s Jon Berthal that elevate this gripping WWII tale into a minor classic.
Brad Pitt has hardly been on a decline recently, appearing in 12 Years A Slave, World War Z and Killing Them Softly but Fury is without a doubt his best role since 2011’s Moneyball. A more nuanced and toned down version of his Aldo Raine character from Inglourious Basterds, Pitt gives a gritty and memorable performance.
The supporting cast are on the top of their game as well. Berthal is genuinely loathsome, Logan Lerman as rookie soldier Norman is a revelation and finally fulfils the potential he showed in Perks of Being a Wallflower and Michael Pena is dependable as ever.
This brings us on nicely to Shia LaBeouf…
LaBeouf has been more in the headlines for his erratic behaviour than his acting in recent years, indeed he reportedly pulled out one of his own teeth and refused to shower during the making of Fury, but for an actor who is often inconsistent it is safe to say this is one of his finer performances.
After years of boring Band of Brothers imitations Fury and American Sniper (which also came out in 2014) are a breath of fresh air.
Death tells a story.
The Book Thief is a pretty conventional world war two story in the vein of The boy with the striped pajamas, Schindler’s List, The Pianist etc etc but it also makes some really unconventional decisions. For example TBF is narrated by that old joker the Grim Reaper. There is no explanation for this it is just a thing. Also the decision to have the characters speak in English is fine (it is set in Germany) but you can’t then just have them randomly speak German as well from time to time. It is an engaging and well acted story however. Director Brian Percival has quite a lot going on but the story never feels rushed. Emily Watson plays that same strong headed matriarch she so often plays but when she is so good you can’t really begrudge her it. More impressive is the excellent Geoffrey Rush who not only makes a marvellous villainous pirate but also a charming father figure here. Relative unknown Sophie Nelisse is impressively strong through out, fellow child actor Nico Liersch however is enthusiastic but completely out of his depth. The Book Thief is a steady if unremarkable addition to an already swollen genre but I would say it is worth watching once.