Fury
Director: David Ayer
Starring: Stars: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman
134 mins; Class15;
KRS Releasing Ltd

An officer rides a white horse through the mist across a field littered with burning warfare debris. Tanks and trucks stand proudly yet semi-destroyed and the ground is littered with corpses.

The horse trots silently towards the camera, a deceptively peaceful moment despite the background of carnage.

The moment is cut short, however, as the rider is brutally attacked and killed by a figure that leaps out from a burning tank.

The attacker is sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt), commander of a Sherman tank with a team of four men under him.

It is April 1945, and the long, hard, casualty-ridden second World War is nearing its end. The Nazis are about to be defeated and American forces are now marching towards Berlin.

Blighted by fatigue and injury, they have to find it within themselves to carry out the final, overwhelming battle to cut the head off the remnants of the Nazi regime, a regime that will not give up their last ditch resistance. They are roping in men, women and children to fight, going so far as to hang those who refuse, in a final act of unspeakable humanity.

It is Wardaddy’s responsibility to keep his men alive, but he has lost one in their last battle. That man is replaced by Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman).

Ellison a recent, very young recruit who’s been in training for eight weeks to be a typist. Yet, he has been sent to the front lines as assistant tank driver, a job he is clearly unqualified to do. This doesn’t stopWardaddy and the other members of the tank’s crew – gunner Boyd Swan (Shia La Beouf); loader Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal) and driver Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) – from forcing him to man up and do his job… just as they face their toughest trial yet.

Writer and director David Ayer seems to have made it his mission to make Fury as unglamorous, brutal and realistic a war movie as possible.

The film’s title does not only give Wardaddy’s tank its name; it also accurately describes the tone that permeates throughout – the fury of battle and that of the soldiers fighting it.

Ayers pulls no punches in his visceral portrayal of the true violence experienced in the theatre of war.

The film depicts a number of ferocious battles, the sound of machine-gun and missile fire roaring deafeningly as the antagonists on both sides aim to kill, kill, and kill some more; the screen littered with hundreds of bodies, as tanks roll over victims lying prostrate on the road.

Ayers pulls no punches

Any sign of weakness is immediately punished; any display of compassion snuffed out like a candle for the concept of right and wrong lies wasted hundreds of miles away from the battlefield.

Ayers keeps this relentless up until the very end, and the final battle, when the tank members take on a German platoon against overwhelming odds, is masterfully accomplished.

His main characters are the good guys, but it is hard to identify them as such.

Pitt’s Wardaddy may be the strongest character the actor has ever played, but he is as unheroic a hero as you can imagine.

This is a no-nonsense, oftentimes unsavoury and you suspect unstable man driven by a determination to finish this war whatever the cost, Pitt gives a gritty and committed performance allowing those shreds of humanity to occasionally emerge and assuage his tough exterior.

Shia La Beouf gives one of his best performance as Swan, a man who turns to religion as a coping mechanism. Jon Bernthal’s Travis is a brute of man, clearly made so by the circumstances around him, while Lerman’s wide-eyed rookie Ellison is in a way, the person audience members can relate to the most – unable to cope with the horrors raining down on him.

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