For a re­view of “Fury,”

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

This bit of hero­ics isn’t “what I wanted to do,” Brad Pitt’s bat­tle-scarred sergeant, and a hun­dred movie sergeants be­fore him, growl. “But it’s what we’re do­ing.”

“Fury” is the sort of World War II movie Hol­ly­wood used to churn out four or five times a year — a gritty, grunt’s eye-view of com­bat. The grit is blood­ier and R-rated now, as is the com­bat jar­gon. Fire­fights have a vis­ceral, video-game im­me­di­acy. It’s still a B-movie.

But even a B-movie stuffed with cliches can be grip­ping. “Fury,” writ­ten and di­rected by David “Train­ing Day” Ayer, takes us into the claus­tro­pho­bic con­fines of a tank and makes a fine star ve­hi­cle for Pitt, if not the most orig­i­nal march down World War II lane.

The s ergeant’s “war name” is War­daddy, and we meet him as his bat­tle weary crew de­liv­ers a dead com­rade to base. In the last days of the war, Ger­many is lash­ing out with a sui­ci­dal fa­tal­ism — fa­nat­i­cal SS troops, old men, boys and girls are be­ing sac­ri­ficed in one last Nazi blood purge.

“Fury,” the name of their tank, is sole sur­vivor of their last mis­sion. Now they’ve been given a re­place­ment (Lo­gan Ler­man) and a new task. The open­ing cred­its re­mind us that U.S. ar­mor was in­fe­rior to Ger­man tanks, so ev­ery mis­sion could be their last.

But the cyn­i­cal crew still mut­ters “Best job I ever had” when the go­ing gets tough. Boyd ( Shia Labeouf) is a drawl­ing, Bi­ble-quot­ing gun­ner. Grady (Jon Bern­thal) is loader and me­chanic, an ugly brute and bully. Gordo ( Michael Pena) — nick­named for the Span­ish word for “fat” — is the driver. They pro­ceed to haze and abuse t he new guy ( Ler­man), whose eight weeks of train­ing were meant to make him an Army clerk. He is, as such char­ac­ters al­ways are in such films, ide­al­is­tic.

In “Train­ing Day/Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan” fash­ion, the new guy has to see the car­nage — tanks churn­ing corpses to goo, heads ex­plod­ing and the oc­ca­sional sum­mary ex­e­cu­tion of the en­emy. War­daddy is a bit of a fa­natic about killing SS fa­nat­ics.

“Fury” gives Pitt a story arc that makes him harder and more cruel than any­body in this crew, which he has kept alive since the North African cam­paign. But we get hints there are lay­ers he’s hid­ing.

The cast around him plays mostly stock char­ac­ters, but vivid ones.

Ayer hasn’t topped “Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan,” even though he re­cy­cles chunks of it. “Fury” is more like Sam Fuller’s per­sonal war mem­oir, “The Big Red One” — straight­for­ward, less poetic, an ac­tion film with a hint of hu­man­ity and his­tory that is fast re­ced­ing from view. It’s good, not great, and it’s not Ayer’s fault that the rarer th­ese B-movies be­come, the more we ex­pect from them.

“Fury, ” a Columbia re­lease, is rated R for strong se­quences of war vi­o­lence, some grisly images and lan­guage through­out. Run­ning time: 134 min­utes.

“Best of Me”

For an hour or so, Michelle Mon­aghan and James Mars­den gamely swim against the cur­rent, fight­ing the tor­pid tide of tripe that ro­mance nov­el­ist Ni­cholas Sparks sends their way in his lat­est.

It’s sad to watch them strain and strug­gle and then give up as the lachry­mose “The Best of Me” drowns them in a sea of sac­cha­rine.

It’s yet another doomed last chance love story set in the coastal South, starcrossed lovers “des­tined” to be to­gether, but kept apart by tragedy. There’s barely a tear left in this limp weeper.

Daw­son (Mars­den) once loved Amanda (Mon­aghan). They were high school sweet­hearts — the pushy, spunky rich girl, the book- smart “white trash” bayou rat from a fam­ily of den­tally de­fi­cient lowlifes.

But cir­cum­stances broke them apart, and when we meet him he’s on an oil rig in the Gulf, a rig that has a blowout that hurls him into the sea. When he wakes up, he’s sum­moned to the read­ing of a will. She’s been sum­moned, too.

Can love’s flame rekin­dle after 20 years? “Twenty-one, ac­tu­ally.” Can she ig­nore the hurt he caused and leave the fam­ily she started? Can he come off as noble as he hopes against hope to bust up that fam­ily? What do you think?

Ger­ald McRaney plays a mildly-amus­ing old cuss who took Daw­son in when he was a teen. It’s his will they read. Through flash­backs, the old man’s narration and heart­felt hand-writ­ten let­ters, we learn their past, as per­formed by Luke Bracey and Liana Lib­er­ato, who don’t look much at all like the adults they’re sup­posed to be and don’t heat this story up.

Back then, she was all “You don’t know how to flirt, do ya?” And he was all “Des- tiny is a name the for­tu­nate give to their for­tunes.”

And his red­neck daddy (Sean Bridgers) is all, “You think you’re too GOOD for this fam­ily?”

The boy stud­ies physics, sit­ting on the cat­walk of the rusty town wa­ter tower in their lit­tle Louisiana town. So yeah, he is.

Di­rec­tor Michael Hoff­man (“One Fine Day”) was prob­a­bly never up to the task of pol­ish­ing this floater.

But the adults are in­ter­est­ing to watch, and Mon­aghan comes close to break­ing our heart, once or twice — a lit­tle catch in her voice, a tear. At some point, the spark goes out of her per­for­mance and she joins Mars­den as a sort of by­stander in a movie their ef­forts alone won’t save.

There’s an art­less ob­vi­ous­ness to Sparks — the choice of tune they pick as “their song,” the taste­ful PG-13 sex scenes, the right­eous ru­ral way of set­tling scores. None of which isn’t helped by the fact that “The Best of Me” is just Sparks’ great­est hits, start­ing with “The Note­book,” a touch of “Dear John” and run­ning through ev­ery “not good enough for my daugh­ter,” ev­ery tragic death, bro­ken mem­ory or noble sacrifice.

Which is why “The Best of Me” plays like the worst of Ni­cholas Sparks.

“Best Of Me,” a Relativity re­lease, is rated PG-13 for sex­u­al­ity, vi­o­lence, some drug con­tent and brief strong lan­guage. Run­ning time: 113 min­utes. ½

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.