At a critical juncture in David Ayer’s wartime thriller, Brad Pitt’s grizzled tank commander turns to an inexperienced new recruit and sounds the death knell on morality and diplomacy in a time of conflict.
“Ideals are peaceful, history’s violent,” he growls with an icy glare.
Those words resonate throughout Fury, a brutal, mud-spattered tour of duty during the final weeks of the Second World War, as seen through the gun sights of an M4 Sherman tank crew on a collision course with Hitler’s troops.
The film opens with Pitt’s inspirational leader stabbing an unsuspecting German officer in the eye and Ayer repeatedly sates a thirst for close-up gore with expertly choreographed battle sequences and hand-to-hand combat between ground troops.
The bloodbath temporarily abates for brotherly banter inside the claustrophobic tank, but the air is always chokingly thick with impending doom.
Eight weeks after he enrols in the US Army as a clerk typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is assigned the position of assistant driver in a tank christened Fury under the command of Sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt).
This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom.
Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini Garcia (Michael Pena) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget on a series of missions led by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) and Lieutenant Parker (Xavier Samuel).
Three other tanks commanded by Sergeant Binkowski (Jim Parrack), Sergeant Davis (Brad William Henke) and Sergeant Peterson (Kevin Vance) flank Fury as US soldiers push on towards Berlin.
“It will end soon,” Collier assures Norman, “but before it does, a lot more people gotta die.”
Fury paints a familiar picture of the hell of war, directed with testosterone-fuelled swagger by Ayer, who previously helmed the bombastic police thrillers End Of Day and Sabotage.
His script is studded with polished dialogue that doesn’t quite ring true, like when Collier berates thuggish Grady, “You’re an animal. All you understand is fist and boot”.
Or when Collier encourages Norman to sow his seeds with a pretty young German (Alicia von Rittberg) by purring, “She’s a good clean girl. If you don’t take her into that bedroom, I will”.
Pitt leads the cast with a strong performance as a battle-weary commander, who holds back a tide of anguish and uncertainty until he is alone and can allow the sobs to shake his scarred body.
Lerman is equally compelling as a naive whelp, who develops a taste for killing Nazis.
Ayer obliges him with an astronomical body count and foreign fields slathered as far as the eye can see in mud, freshly spilt blood and the bodies of the fallen.