By Gary Murray

Starring Brad Pitt, Shia Labeouf and Logan Lerman

Written and directed by David Ayer

Brad Pitt, Shia Labeouf and Logan Lerman

Written and directed by David Ayer

Running time 134 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Matinee


Brad Pitt is one of the most successful actors today.  Some of his films are Mr. & Mrs. Smith, World War Z and Moneyball.  Even among movie stars, he is a celebrity.  He has been in just about every genre out there.  In his latest film Fury, he once again takes on WWII.

Set in April 1945, Fury is a tank manned by Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt).  He is a tough as nails commander who has made a promise to keep his men safe in battle.  His crew consists of Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia LeBeouf),   Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Pena) and Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal). 

They have been together since Africa and the war is almost over.  They are hardened veterans who understand that their job is to kill Nazis.  One gets the feeling that in battle they would die for each other but would never even speak if they met as strangers on the street.  The war has bonded them in a way that nothing else can.

Truly, Fury it is the story of Norman (Logan Lerman) and the screenplay is basically told from his point of view.  He is typist, eight weeks into the service.  He is put in the Fury as a tank gunner/co-pilot and he has never fired a weapon at another man.   Norman is green and very scared which makes him the weakest element in the crew.  A crew is only as good as its weakest element.

When confronted with a skirmish, Norman freezes and cannot fire his weapon.  He is shocked by the reactions of his crew and is eventually thrown into the bath of fire that is combat. It is also the moment when every man on the crew gives him the ‘understanding’ look that battle still rattles them.  They are all scared that they will die but never show it.  It is kill or be killed.

The weakest element is the second act.  The idea is to show some normality and bonding with the men and the locals.  While it would make sense in a novel where time is not a factor, in a screenplay it just feels like padding to get to the ending.

The ending is where the film totally becomes a serious war film.  They men must defend a cross road that is surrounded by Nazis.  It is the kind of action and character tension that makes for a memorable film.  It is the moment that will be remembered well after the film has been shown.

Fury feels as if it were made for only one reason, to win Brad Pitt a Best Actor Oscar.  This may not be the role that will do it. While it is harsh and coarse performance, it is also a bit of a psychotic one.  The idea seems to be that war brings out the best and the worst in men, sometimes at the same time.   He is a brilliant actor but does not bring that awe-inspiring performance that is deserved of Oscar.

Shia LeBeouf has been making headlines in Hollywood for all the wrong reasons.  This is a turn toward redeeming himself.  His character sees his mission as a commandment from God and prays over his killed foes.  He tries to keep a decency to combat.

The film is about morality, religion and war with a blend of action and philosophical discussion while hunting down the bad guys.  Director/writer David Ayer (Training Day, The Fast and the Furious) knows how to deliver action sequences and anti-heroes.  Here he does both.  He channels great old war films such as Battleground and Attack! but also gives it a more modern spin.  In so many ways, the film feels as if it were a documentary. 

This is a gritty, bloody film almost at the same level as Saving Private Ryan.   This is not a film for the squeamish or the very young.  It deserves its R rating for violence. 

Some of the best films that have ever been made have been made about WWII.  It was the event that changed the globe and the thoughts of man.  While Fury is a good movie and may make some critics best of the year lists, it is not one of the greats. 

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