April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
One of my favorite Brad Pitt performances was from a low-budget thriller he made back in 1993 called “Kalifornia.” In it, he played a serial killer with his then real-life girlfriend Juliette Lewis and David Duchovny. The film was released and disappeared without a trace but Pitt’s performance was the only memorable aspect of it. Over the years, he’s given some wonderful portrayals onscreen, from the very underrated “The Devil’s Own” and “Sleepers” to “Se7en”, “Fight Club” and his Oscar-nominated turn in “12 Monkeys.” Mr. Pitt can add “Fury” to that long list as he turns in one of his finest performances in years.
He plays Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, a sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division who commands a Sherman tank called “Fury” and its five-man crew on deadly missions throughout Germany near the end of World War II. His regular crew includes Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña), Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) and newbie Norman “Cobb” Ellison (Logan Lerman), who has just replaced what’s left of their last gunner. Norman has absolutely no practice in the art of combat as he was initially trained as a clerk typist but he is thrown into battle with the crew who lead all of the German missions.
Naturally, the crew are standoffish towards Norman but over time, he earns their trust and eventually, their respect. As the crew heads off on what will be their final mission, the tank hits a mine on the road which renders them immovable and with news that a battalion of SS soldiers are quickly approaching their location, they must decide, as a team, whether they will run and hide with a good chance of survival or stand their ground, where the odds will most certainly be stacked against them. The story itself is pretty straightforward but director David Ayer has assembled a top-notch cast and has produced one of the very best war films ever made.
That’s quite an achievement and I don’t offer it lightly as there are some terrific war movies out there but everything about this film is absolutely perfect, from the acting, the directing, the musical composition right down to the thoroughly stunning cinematography by Roman Vasyanov and the visceral violence which at times, comes right out of nowhere and jolts you to your very foundation. We have seen countless movies of men in war and the camaraderie that transpires between them but here, these men have no choice but to get on with each other as they live and breathe in such confined quarters.
“Fury” is absolutely relentless in its pursuit to capture the demoralizing reality of combat and the movie is better because of it. Director David Ayer proved that he could deliver taut, suspenseful thrillers with “Street Kings”, “Sabotage” and his fantastic “End of Watch” but with “Fury”, he goes above and beyond anything else he has ever produced and the finished result is absolutely flawless. While each of the main characters give dynamite portrayals, for me, Shia La Beouf delivers an extraordinarily momentous performance, scaling the summit of emotion. He simply shines and amazingly, seems to almost underplay his scenes, something most actors typically avoid like the plague.
There is already Oscar talk about the movie and I for one, would be very disappointed if it didn’t even receive a nomination. While Mr. Pitt excels herein and I could certainly see him getting a Best Actor nomination, I honestly believe that the movie overall, stands a better chance of winning a Best Picture and/or Best Director award for Mr. Ayer. I would suggest seeing it on the big screen as it will lose a lot of its impact on your smaller TV screens, no matter how big they are. “Fury” is a film that was created for movie theaters and I very highly recommend it.
In theaters October 17th
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