Fury: A sign of good things still to come from Hollywood

If “Fury” is any indication of the direction cinema is headed for the rest of 2014, it’s a good time to be a film fanatic.

Coming off the release of David Fincher’s terrific thriller “Gone Girl,” it was hard to imagine Hollywood providing any level of consistency in the quality of filmmaking heading into the final few months of the year, but the action epic “Fury” puts out a tremendous effort just short of remarkable.

Director David Ayer, best known as the writer of “Training Day” and the director of “End of Watch,” provides a nearly perfect fictionalized account of a lone American tank stuck behind enemy lines in World War II Germany.

Interestingly enough, “Fury” is the first movie since 1946 in which an actual German “Tiger” tank was used in filming instead of a prop one.

“Fury” is strongest in close quarters, when the film’s stars Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LeBeouf, Jon Bernthal and Michael Pena are encased within the tank itself, hammering home an “us-against-the-world” mentality that resonates throughout the film.

Ayer’s script and direction insist upon a heavy message concerning the consequences of war on both its participants and the innocent citizens who have to endure hardships as a result of fighting.

Where the movie becomes disjointed is a lengthy character development sequence outside the tank as Pitt and Lerman encounter a pair of German women in their apartment and force the women to dine with them.

Independent of the rest of “Fury,” the scene and its subsequent section with the rest of the tank’s crew is compelling drama. It just doesn’t fit within the rest of the movie, making “Fury” disjointed.

Some moderate editing could have improved the pacing and made the scene seem less like an homage to the opening sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”

The film is gripping and brutal in its tense action sequences, which occur both inside and outside the tank.

“Fury” has an uphill battle to climb as there’s no shortage of World War II films to choose from. This isn’t “Saving Private Ryan” or “Patton” and isn’t meant to be.

When seen outside the context of more complete films, “Fury” stands out for its strong main cast and terrifically gripping final action sequence. It’s a sign that good things are still to come out of Hollywood this fall.

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