“Fury” directed by David Ayer, is an intensely unflinching look at the horrors of combat in World War 2. Uncommon for most films in the genre, it doesn’t focus on the Generals or the fact this was the point in history when rules and etiquette in war disappeared. The director puts you right onto the mud caked battlefield, it follows the plights of an American Sherman tank crew as they plow through Germany in 1945. While the violence in essence can be exciting, it never lets you forget the horrible acts being committed. This is a rare modern war film that actually deals with its brutal environment.
Don Collier – Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) is the Commander of a five passenger Sherman tank, sporting golden blonde hair and a tortured gaze. The result of killing is written on the soldiers’ faces, having to break morality and do horrible things to survive. Returning from battle with a lost crew member, they receive Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) as their new gunner. Innocent and wide-eyed Norman reminds the crew or the horrors they are committing, for they have long been desensitized by it. There is no real plot; the team drives from town to town, at a time when the fighting retreated into Germany.
The crew also includes Boyd Swan or Bible (Shia Labeaouf) cannon operator, Trini Garcia or Gordo (Michael Pena) driver, and Grady Travis or Coon-Ass (Jon Berenthal) ammunition’s loader. Along their journey are well-crafted action scenes with the explicitness of war shown without restraint. There is a scene where Wardaddy and Norman invade a German household, which serves as the heart of the movie. It shatters any illusion of their heroism and we begin to sense the horrible things they are capable of outside the battlefield.
Ayer is effective in displaying the cold grey landscapes of wartime Germany, using real Tiger (which Americans had trouble fighting off) and Sherman tanks to create an authentic environment. For the most part it stays away from usual Hollywood excess, and manages to inject real heart and emotion into its crew members. Brad Pitt in possibly his most impressive performance doesn’t show any of his Hollywood persona. LaBeaouf is fantastic in an against type role, playing a believer rather than a feisty arrogant character. Faults include the ending and that it never says anything new.
Never does the violence seem anything less than horrifying; with carnage shown to remind viewers that killing is dirty business. The soldiers try to laugh it off and hide themselves from their actions but never do their boasts or jokes ring true. They cannot hide from the horrors of war. Hollywood rarely funds movies like this anymore, with Ayer receiving free reign to do what he wanted. This is a better-than average war film that benefits from passionate performances. The explosions and gun-shots don’t enthrall, rather pushing viewers to experiece the harsh realities of warfare.
(3 ½ out of 4 Stars)
(Released: October 7, 2014)