Fury


In most ways, David Ayer's Fury is like other latter-day war movies. It's a story of men and machines that celebrates brotherhood and sacrifice. Fury, starring and exec-produced by Brad Pitt, is no jingoistic rave. In fact, it's a grim tale of a well-bonded tank crew led by Pitt's Sgt. Don Collier, who is hell-bent on eradicating the Nazis and all that comes between him and that mission. Because the humanitarian Pitt is attached to the film, one can be sure the picture will  be peddling much more than blood and body count heroics. To my mind and eye, it goes deeper than Band of Brothers bromides and invites audiences to reflect on how much is lost when battling evil. The film, which was also written by Ayer, opens with Collier and his crew members (Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal) having just lost their driver in a skirmish. They are regrouping with what remains of their company in Germany. Collier and the other American tank commanders are out-gunned but must press on, recover stranded infantrymen and stall, capture or destroy what's left of the German forces, including the barbaric Waffen-SS. An untrained young clerk (Logan Lerman) is assigned to Collier's crew, and it is immediately clear there will be many kinds of battles waged in the film. Ayer has a sure and expressive style; his most powerful scenes take place in the close quarters of the tank where the visceral horrors of military engagement are viewed through scopes and where crew members barely maintain control of their fear and their despair. Ayer's vision of war is grisly but not gross and is often layered with nuance, as in a brilliant set piece toward the middle of the picture that features Collier, his crew, and two German women. I feel all of this is in service to  the film's larger goal of examining how conflict too often interweaves valor and debasement, the innumerable ways men lose their souls in battle. Highly recommended but not for the squeamish.

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