“Ideals are peaceful, history is violent,” said the weary, battle-hardened war sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier played by Brad Pitt. It is one of the more memorable lines in the film Fury which opens this weekend at theaters everywhere.
Those words echo throughout the rest of the film as audiences get a front row seat to just that, World War II violence on an epic scale.
Fury, which is also the name of the Sherman tank, is directed by David Ayer, and is about an American tank crew who find themselves on the front lines of Nazi Germany, usually going on blind missions against the evil S.S.
Ayer likes to get down and dirty and bring an element of grit to his films. Fury is no different. Although the film does come across as formulaic at times, there are some great scenes and visuals that show the hardships and realities of war where men grasp for what remains of their clear conscience.
Fury, like previous war films, doesn’t sugar coat the hard realities of battle. It is kill or be killed and for the tank crew, their job is simple, kill Nazis and stay alive in a tin can that is far inferior than what the Germans had in their arsenal.
Brad Pitt has played the hardened soldier before but his portrayal of ‘Wardaddy’ could be some of his finest work. It’s not an over the top performance like Lt. Aldo Raine was in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds; instead Collier is far more haunting with a subtle touch of brevity.
There is a scene where ‘Wardaddy’ and his rookie gunner Ellison find themselves in a German home with two other women. For a brief time they can clean themselves up, forget about the war and be human again, until they are interrupted by their fellow soldiers who act like animals before going out to conquer the next town.
Pitt’s performance is great but it’s balanced nicely by Shia LaBeouf who puts forward one of his best performances of his career.
With everything that has been going on for Shia off screen, there is no doubt that the man can act, and in Fury, he gives us Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan, a soldier who is responsible for manning Fury’s big cannon and spouting mini sermons about forgiveness.
LaBeouf went all out for this role, reading the Bible, studying WW2 tanks, actually cutting his face with a knife, and apparently staying in character for the entire shoot.
Brad Pitt said in a recent interview that he has never worked with a more committed actor so it’s easy to overlook Shia for his whiskey drinking, party ways which he blames on Cabaret and World Cup soccer as he recently told Jimmy Kimmel.
Although Pitt and LaBeouf put up solid performances in this film, the same can be said about the other supporting players in Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal who made up the rest of the ragtag tank crew. As crazy as they seem, they stick together as brothers all while cheating death and spouting “best job I’ve ever had.”
Lerman, who did some great work in the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, plays the innocent, egg head, rookie soldier named Norman Ellison.
Norman was supposed to be an army administrator but instead gets thrown into a battle with a crew who have been fighting Nazis in Africa, Normandy and now Germany. Ellison has to battle with his own innocence and the idea of taking another life to protect his own.
There are some intense battle scenes where you start squirming in your seat as you feel the plotting rumble of the tanks as they move through the mud towards hidden enemies. It’s definitely not a film for the faint of heart as bullets fly along with body parts.
Overall Fury is a good time and for those of you who enjoy a well told war story, this is one to put on your list and check out on the big screen.
The acting was strong, the visuals are intense, and this film will become an instant classic. I give it four rain drops out of five.