An idealistic raw recruit is assigned to a tank crew commanded by grizzled combat veteran Brad Pitt during the Allied invasion of Germany in the latter stages of World War II.
David Ayer’s contribution to the “war is Hell” genre is rooted firmly in the grim realities of day-to-day combat, where violence is a way of life, brutality is commonplace and ugly murder the norm. The tank crew is a strange assortment who have little in common and bicker and fight amongst themselves constantly, but once the shooting starts share a bond of trust and absolute loyalty. The story revolves around the relationship between battle-hardened pragmatist Pitt and young, fresh-faced Logan Lerman and they go through the usual “learning to respect each other” motions that are common to the genre. Thanks to solid performances and the lack of sentimentality from Ayer, Fury manages to avoid the worst of the cliches, although the rest of the crew – Jon Bernthal’s crass and bullying red neck, Latino immigrant Michael Pena and scripture-quoting Shia LeBeouf – are little more than lightly sketched caricature’s meaning that there is little in the way of emotional involvement; there is also little attempt to show the German soldiers they face as fellow human beings and Lerman’s evolution from man of conscience to “machine” is shown with little moral context. The strength of the film is in its gritty realism and well engineered battle sequences; the duel between the Allied tanks and a hugely superior German Tiger is a highlight and their final stand is atmospheric and tense.
Lacking in the grander themes and engaging characters of the best examples of the genre, Fury is however a well-executed and graphic representation of the ugliness of war.