And just as the 58th BFI London Film Festival began, so it ends, bookended by a pride of British talent in The Imitation Game and the boldness of the American allies in David Ayer’s, Fury, closing this year’s festival with its European premiere.
Set on German soil, we meet our American allies, tired, weary and battle worn from years on the front, as they prepare for the final push into the European Theatre. Led by the stern but good-willed Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt), we follow the lives of a group of soldiers and their Sherman tank, the eponymous ‘Fury’. Having just lost one of their own, the battle-hardened gang – played by Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal – find themselves in the reluctant company of a young typist, thrown from the office to the frontline. A young Logan Lerman breaks through as Norman, our unwitting new recruit, forming a tense father-son like relationship with Wardaddy, violently plunging him into the horrors of war – if anything for the safety of the family. But also, because this is their job, and you have to do your job well.
Padded with bravado and locker-room attitudes together in their tank, Ayer richly captures the suffocation and the claustrophobia of the men’s life and the impact it has had on their already damaged psyche. While the remnants of their former platoon may be scrubbed away from the grimy floor and walls of the tank, the stains remain on the men themselves. It is here where Fury is at its most powerful, acknowledging the psychological traumas that affect even the most hardened of soldiers. Perfectly and painfully demonstrated in one of the film’s highlight scenes as the troops find themselves in the company of two German women, craving a moment of humanity, or normalcy, only for the realisation to dawn that such moments may never again be achievable.
Filmed on 35mm, Fury is treated to a stunning palette, from the mud that encrusts the men’s faces and clothes to the blood splatters that paint photos that cover the inside of their tomblike tank. Pitt delivers another standout performance while Lerman shows an impressive start, transcending from wide-eyed coward to a worthy member of the family – and as stories would lead us to believe, LaBeouf has clearly committed to the method as the god-fearing Boyd.
In an unlikely story of loyalty, bravery and family, this powerful festival closer presents a new take on the World War epic with a profound sentimentality and, well, fury.
Fury is showing in cinemas from Wednesday 22 October.
Watch the trailer: