Humanity exists within the most inhuman actions. Fury, a great film from writer-director David Ayer, relentlessly looks at the tiresome, callous nature of war and the destruction of self that happens at the hand of senseless violence. Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman, the latter in particular, deliver compelling performances that derive from their experience on the battle front. The former plays “Wardaddy,” real name Don, a veteran sergeant that leads a front in 1945 Germany. World War II is coming to an end, but the war is far from finished within Nazi territory. The men lead a fight in their tank nicknamed Fury, and he’s joined by faith-oriented Boyd (Shia LaBeouf), aggressively demented Grady (Jon Bernthal), kind-hearted driver Trini (Michael Peña), and newcomer typist Norman (Logan Lerman). These men have spent tireless hours with one another, all desensitized to the fact that these are men fighting not because they want to, but because they have to.
What distinguishes Fury from the rest of the World War II films released in the past decade is its thematically consistent call to arms about the atrocities of war. Outside of a final, sensationalized battle in the last thirty minutes, the film holds true to its message about inhumanity stemming from horrible actions committed for the sake of one’s homeland. The Germans are humanized in small, remarkably affecting moments, particularly in a brilliantly orchestrated breakfast scene in the home of two German women. While Norman and Wardaddy attempt to eat in peace and connect with women caught in the midst of a war they did not choose, the other men enter and bring grotesque representations of humanity into play. It’s a tense, compellingly acted scene that stands as one of the finest I’ve seen this year. And Lerman is exceptional in the lead, showing the harrowing change that a man undergoes when forced to commit repulsive acts. It’s beautifully photographed, compulsively watchable, and unnerving. Fury is powerfully contained storytelling.
Grade: ★★★★½ (out of 5)