Fury – Film Review

David Ayer's brutal film spotlights the psychic trauma of conflict with Brad Pitt's tank captain 'Wardaddy'

Brad Pitt is tank captain ‘Wardaddy’ in David Training Day Ayer’s visceral and harrowing WWII drama. The Fury of the title is a Sherman tank deployed behind enemy lines as the Allies push on through Germany in April 1945. We experience the ambushes, bone-snapping firefights and the shock and gore of man to man combat through the eyes of rookie recruit Norman (Logan Lerman) when, like a lamb to the slaughter, he joins Wardaddy’s crew.

We’ve seen the rites of passage tale of an innocent young man turned killing machine before with Oliver Stone’s Platoon. And the painstakingly gritty recreation of the conflict is reminiscent of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. Wardaddy sagely states: “Ideas are peaceful. History is violent.” Meanwhile, orchestral swells bookend scenes of mud, blood and pain that stray into war overload. Faces are torn off, skulls crushed by tank tracks and bodies torn in half by heavy artillery. It’s no sugar coated hero tale, and that’s the point because in Ayer’s film war is hell.

But it’s the crew that Ayer has assembled through three months of boot camp training and five months of shooting that grabs your attention most on screen. Ayer says of Fury, “Usually WWII films are about battle, this one is about family – a family that happens to live in tank and kill people. It’s a day in the life character study. It’s about a crew of guys and the love they have for each other.”

Shia LaBeouf may have been in the news for a meta-marathon run, drunken arrests, plagiarism and wearing a paper bag on his head but puts in a memorable method-acting shift (he slashed his face and lost a tooth) as God-fearing gunner ‘Bible’. It will remind you what all the fuss was about before he sold his soul to Michael Bay for a Transformers pay day. The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal plays battle-hardened Southerner ‘Coon-Ass’ who loads the ammo that ‘Bible’ fires. The actor told NME that when the cameras stopped rolling the crew stayed in a “dark and dangerous” mindset so they could become a unit that eat, sleep, crap and fight in a tin can. The unit is rounded out by Michael Pena (who starred alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Ayer’s LA cop drama End of Watch) as the sarcastic ‘Gordo’. You’ll believe the camaraderie and gallows humour while rooting for their survival.

Fury bluntly underlines the dehumanising terror of conflict as the crew lurch from one suicide mission to the next. Ayer avoids moral sermons or gung-ho heroics and instead spotlights the psychic hazards of war itself and the lasting impression it leaves on the human soul.