David Ayer’s ferociously brutal World War Two drama Fury combines gritty realism with Hollywood fantasy as Brad Pitt’s craggy US army tank commander leads his five-man crew on a suicidal mission in the closing stages of the war. The scenes of combat have a grim authenticity but the story is pure guys-on-a-mission baloney.
At the start of the film, which takes place over the course of 24 hours in April 1945 as the Allies make their final push into Germany, Logan Lerman’s callow young recruit, Norman, joins Pitt’s stoic sergeant, Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, and his hard-bitten Sherman tank crew: superstitious gunner Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Hispanic driver Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Peña) and redneck loader Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal).
An army clerk typist, Norman has been in uniform eight weeks and his skills amount to the ability to type 60 words a minute rather than any facility with weapons. His inexperience could easily get his new comrades killed, so Collier – very much Norman’s ‘war-daddy’ – must scour the greenness off him very quickly and ensure he is as ready to kill the hated ‘Krauts’ as the next of them.
Ayer is unflinching in his depiction of Norman’s baptism of fire into the horrors of war, conveying the sudden savagery of ambushes and firefights, as well as the sweaty claustrophobia of the tank and its desperate vulnerability. But the realism of the battle scenes (and Ayer has clearly done his tank warfare research) goes hand in hand with typical war-movie machismo.
Pitt’s grizzled warrior may test our sympathy with his savage, sometimes almost sadistic, actions towards the enemy, but he turns out to be an all too conventional cinematic hero, his screen charisma all too visible beneath the grease and grime. And when he leads his men into a fight against impossible odds, the merciless violence that ensues can’t disguise the film’s hard-boiled sentimentality.
Certificate 15. Runtime 134 mins. Director David Ayer.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.