In the history of American film, World War II has been a constant source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers.
Aside from being one of the biggest historical periods of all time, there are two reasons why WWII is often seen on the silver screen. One, America is often seen as the hero of the war and we like that feeling. Two, Nazi Germany is considered the most evil organization in recent history so everyone’s cool with them being the go-to villain. This is the same reason why politicians and writers often compare anything bad to Hitler.
The newest addition to the WWII filmography is “Fury,” the story of a Sherman tank crew that has stayed together through the entirety of the war. Sergeant Don Collier (Brad Pitt) leads the five-man squad as they battle in Germany near the end of the conflict. Collier is a battle-hardened man who knows the cruelty that is required of him but struggles with his decisions behind closed doors.
Rounding out the rest of his crew are Grady (Jon Bernthal), “Gordo” (Michael Pena), “Bible” (Shia LaBeouf) and, its newest member, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). All five of these actors deliver a great performance in the film and each brings a different aspect to their characters. Pitt is the weary leader who is haunted by what he’s done. Bernthal is the soldier that has completely lost himself in the horror of war. Pena is a cynical man still clinging to what decency he has left. LaBeouf is the God-fearing soldier who is torn between Scripture and the darkness of his warring ways. Lastly, Lerman is the fresh-faced kid that’s been thrown into fighting and it’s through his eyes that the audience views the war.
“Fury” tells the story of war that often gets overlooked for a more valiant, glory-seeking storyline. Though it contains exciting action sequences and a few laughs, the overall tone is a dull gray that matches the fatigue and burden of a soldier that’s been away from home for years. The film never turns judgmental on the actions of the American soldiers or takes a swing at revisionist history, but simply shows the lengths at which men must go during a time of war.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film involves a pair of German women the crew encounters during a break from their fighting. Without spoiling anything, this 10-15 minute section of the film displays a full range of emotions and was the point in the film where I was completely hooked.
Though he took a big step in the wrong direction with his last film, “Sabotage,” writer/director David Ayer is back on the right track. “Fury” is the best WWII film since the last time Brad Pitt took on the Nazis in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”