Gritty, unrelenting and graphically violent, Fury could be seen as this year’s equivalent to 1998’s Saving Private Ryan.
Indeed, the two films share a common historical glitch in that both portray the ferocious battles that raged across France during the Second World War as exclusively Yank versus Nazi, with nary an English or other allied troop anywhere in sight. However, what is accurate is the sheer grim, muddy, bloody, unrelenting awfulness of it all.
Brad Pitt is very much the star here as hardened tank commander Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, determined to bring his exhausted tank crew through yet another day of blistering battles. He and his team – Boyd (an unintelligible Shia LeBeouf), Trini (Michael Pena) and Grady (Jon Bernthal) – bitch, backbite and make blacker than black jokes about death. They’re allowed, they’ve seen enough of it, but beneath their grimy exteriors these are professional soldiers who know just what they’ve got to do to stop the Germans.
The one person on the team who hasn’t got a clue is the just drafted in, fresh-faced teenager Norman (a brilliant Logan Lerman, coming on like a young Christian Slater with a touch of English cricketer Stuart Broad). Norman doesn’t have their experience and soon finds himself way over his head, caught like a rabbit in the headlights and liable to panic, during their first gruesome fight against a much bigger German tank.
But every person within ‘Fury’ (Wardaddy’s name for his tank) needs to be fully engaged if they are going to get through alive and so Norman has to grow up extremely fast if his first day as a tank gunner isn’t going to be his last. Lerman brings real sensitivity and intelligence to the role and he really does magically ‘grow up’ before our eyes, holding his own in a world reeking of testosterone and cordite.
Shot on location in England, the tank skirmishes are truly thrilling and breathtaking, not surprising as director David Ayer is no stranger to action having helmed The Fast and the Furious. But a quieter scene shoe-horned into the middle of the movie to show the more human side of war is woefully misjudged, seemingly arriving from a totally different film.
So, if it’s all-out action you are looking for Fury delivers, just don’t expect a nuanced examination of war and its cost to the civilians caught up in it, but not actually fighting.