By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 14, 2014 at 1:17PM
David Ayer's "Fury" is a movie I want to see. That's because Ayer is a visceral, innovative director who pulls strong performances from his actors, from Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez in "Harsh Times" to Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal in hand-held indie "End of Watch," which made my 2012 Ten Best List.
But trying to figure out "Fury" as an Oscar contender is another matter. Clearly Sony is pushing the movie into the awards corridor, moving up its release date from November to October 17 in order to accommodate a closing October 19 night berth at the London Film Festival. (It does not appear to be booked at any U.S. fests, and may not be ready to show as yet.) wasn't ready to show to the New York Fest.) Best Actor candidate Brad Pitt, who was exemplary in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," plays another hard-ass soldier, a Sergeant called Wardaddy, this time leading a weary tank unit in 1945 at the tail end of World War II. Logan Lerman ("Noah") plays the supporting role of the more sensitive new kid on the team who has never killed.... Ayer is not one to lean on trite sentiment.
We can expect Ayer's usual focus on intense, percussive action--taking tank warfare to a new level-- and attention to technological detail --this is shot in wide-screen--and typical macho male bonding. Pena is back as the Hispanic of the group. Shia LaBeouf, as a subdued soldier nicknamed Bible, digs into more spiritual issues. Jon Bernthal takes his "Walking Dead" tough guy bonafides to a new level, I gather from someone who has seen early footage.
The awards question is whether this movie leans toward the artful naturalism of Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker," the spectacular humanism of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," or the accessible commerciality of Peter Berg's "Lone Survivor," which earned top marks from audiences and critics last year, but failed to register with mainstream Academy voters --it wound up with Sound Mixing and Editing nominations.