Directed by: David Ayer

Starring:  Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Scott Eastwood

World War II has been depicted in countless films, most famously in Saving Private Ryan. With the war on ISIL raging, the conflict in the Ukraine, and the never ending turmoil in the Middle East, a World War II film feels oddly timely.  David Ayer’s Fury is a compelling drama that depicts the savagery and the emotional and physical trauma that war inflicts on those involved.

Fury is set in Germany in 1945 as the U.S. military is making its final push to conquer the Nazi regime. Don (“Wardaddy”) (Brad Pitt) leads a small team of soldiers: Boyd (“Bible”) (Shia LaBeouf), Trini (“Gordo”) (Michael Pena), and Grady (“Coon-Ass”)(Jon Bernthal).  Don and his men have taken a huge blow as they lost their assistant tank driver in their last battle. This is especially painful as the crew has been together for three years through multiple phases of the war on different continents.  While they battled side by side in their tank named “Fury”, they formed a unique bond.  Much to Don’s surprise, his squad is assigned fresh faced rookie Norman (Logan Lerman) as a replacement assistant driver.

Norman has only been in the Army for eight weeks.  He signed up as a clerk-typist and his strongest skill is typing sixty words per minute.  Norman is understandably horrified to be placed in active combat, and he is completely unprepared, emotionally and physically.  His first duty is to clean up the tank—which just happens to be splattered with the blood, face and body parts of his predecessor.  It is a grim start to Norman’s new reality.  Unfortunately, it does not get better for him. Don attempts to take Norman under his wing and make a soldier/man out of him.  But Norman is not a killer.  He does not want to kill Germans, or anyone else for that matter.  As the team pushes deeper into enemy territory, Norman must choose to evolve or perish.  

Written and directed by David Ayer, Fury is a compelling depiction of the brutality of war.  It is filthy, unrelenting and violent in an almost casual manner. The director’s use of Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson series) was skillful as Legman’s horror matched that of the film’s viewers.  Lerman’s character is not a soldier.  He is a young man who wanted a desk job.  To see him dropped into hell mirrors the ride that Ayer is taking viewers on.  In Fury, war is a gray, bleak world of men killing other men; a world where you either kill the “krauts” or get killed.  Dead bodies are pushed into mass graves or left along the side of the road; children are hung; women are raped or willing to prostitute themselves for a chocolate bar; buildings are bombed and cities are destroyed.  War is ugly, unpredictable, and violent, and it changes everyone it touches.  

The Fury cast is stellar.  Brad Pitt, back in Nazi Germany again after his scene stealing turn in Inglorious Basterds, is dynamic as Wardaddy.  Pitt’s character has to be tough as nails because his men need him to be, and there is no room for weakness.  However, there is another side to the military leader.  As much as he holds it together for his men, in his private moments, Pitt reveals the emotional agony and strain of the constant violence and the death surrounding him.  It is not just blind machismo that drives him.  Pitt’s reluctant hero, while the epitome of masculinity, is a nicely layered character.  

Another standout in the film is Shia LaBeouf.  With his recent public meltdowns, it appeared that he was going the route of Lindsey Lohan.  However, this film reminds us that LaBeouf is indeed talented.  LaBeouf’s character underscores the role of religion and faith in combat. One of the most profound moments in the film comes when the team is facing insurmountable odds: five soldiers in a tank facing three hundred Nazis.  LeBeouf’s character says, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And... I said: Here am I, send me!”  While some might dismiss this as cheesy or trite, this quote struck me, and not just as a Christian.  It is easy to watch the news, become outraged by the senseless violence, but then go on with your life.  We are desensitized to violence and only care about issues for a news cycle.  But when you take a moment to consider the bravery that it must take for any soldier to face certain death and continue with his or her mission, it is mind-blowing and truly humbling.  (Although to be fair, jihadists would likely have the same view).  Fury drives home the sacrifice and the faith in purpose that is required to stand on the front lines.

Fury earns a 0.03% rating. Even if you are not fond of war movies, the characters, the acting and the tale will hold your attention.