Fury is a brutal war movie that puts you in the belly of a steel beast for a good chunk of its runtime. The story is simple – a five-man crew headed up by ‘Wardaddy’ (Brad Pitt) pilots a tank through Germany during the closing chapter of World War II. We follow the team’s exploits, as Wardaddy, Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) and Gordo (Michael Peña) engage in explosive combat and murderous, mechanised warfare. The fifth crewmember is new recruit and out-of-his-depth army typist Norman (Logan Lerman), an innocent who’s clearly ill-prepared for the uncompromising reality of war.
All actors put in fine performances, with expected kudos to Pitt as a formidable lead. Lerman’s Norman is the most sympathetic character of the lot however, being the everyman who goes on the journey with the audience (and also because all of the other characters are phenomenal douches – more on that later). Nevertheless, Norman’s transformation from timid kid to Nazi killer is not quite fully realised.
I get the impression that writer-director David Ayer (Sabotage) intended the sudden change as a reflection of how the horrors of war forced young men to harden, and in this respect I’m willing to excuse the narrative disconnect. Indeed, Norman’s bad day starts with being forced to clean the blood, skin and bone of his predecessor which splatter the inside of the team’s tank – and it only goes down from there. Some psychological damage isn’t out of the question.
When things stay in the tank, Fury is good – great, even. There’s a terrific battle as the allied tanks attempt to take out a single, superior German Tiger. It’s a sequence that plays a bit like ship-to-ship combat with volleys being fired as the giant metal beasts circle and broadside. It’s a game of chess, played by rolling dice, and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
Unfortunately, outside of the tank, things can grind to a halt. A tea party scene mid-film goes on for far too long, serving to underpin just how horrible and thoroughly unlikeable much of the film’s protagonists actually are – murderers, rapists and spoilers of good eggs. Norman is the last bastion of human decency it seems, but even he becomes a machine as the treads roll on.