Based on Ayer's original screenplay, "Fury" is a departure for the "End of Watch" filmmaker. It's a period piece centered on a crew of American soldiers operating a Sherman tank during the last days of WWII. The script was strong enough to entice Brad Pitt to top-line and features an impressive ensemble including Logan Lerman, Xavier Samuel, Michael Peña and, yes, Shia LaBeouf. It also promises to differ from Ayer's recent handheld style, which gained him so much acclaim with "End of Watch" in particular.
Now, on paper, "Fury" could absolutely be just another war movie thriller. Ayer earned some critical acclaim for his "Training Day" screenplay, for the underrated "Harsh Times" and the aforementioned "Watch." Plus, Pitt is certainly not averse to making commercial flicks. He probably didn't think "Inglourious Basterds" was going to be a Best Picture nominee and "World War Z" never had any prestige aspirations. And yet, even before "Fury" teased some gorgeous and awards-worthy footage at March's CinemaCon convention for theater owners, there was a hint the film was something more.
The film reunites Ayer with John Lesher, who, besides being a producer on "Birdman," is the former head of Paramount Vantage where Pitt made "Babel." Lesher is a smart producer, but he's also shown he's a prestige guy. He's up for making high-quality movies that might just play the awards season game. In fact, if another studio besides Open Road had released "End of Watch," it might have fared better that Oscar season (maybe).
Last night Sony Pictures released the first footage of "Fury," timed to an onsite E3 Convention reveal (hey, they are still trying to open the movie). The first real trailer will be coming soon, but this behind-the-scenes featurette provides a glimpse at the film's impressive scope and gravitas. (It also includes way more of LaBeouf than you'd expect). You can watch it embedded at the bottom of this post.
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"Fury" opens nationwide on Nov. 14.