Fury offers a fierce and fiery salute to the Greatest Generation

by Mark Burger

In terms of violent, visceral wartime action, writer/producer/director David Ayer’s Fury certainly lives up to its title. Set in the last days of World War II in Europe and focused exclusively on an American tank crew, the film is ferocious, unstinting in its depiction of combat. And not for the fainthearted.

Brad Pitt (also a producer) brings his star power to bear as a leader of men by barking orders in a no-nonsense style as Sgt. Collier, nicknamed “Wardaddy.” Collier’s method is simple “” to continue moving forward and to kill as many of the enemy as possible. As depicted here, the Germans are primarily a faceless, collective foe to be eliminated with no questions asked. No questions are needed under the circumstances.

Ayer eschews the standard soul-searching and inherent symbolism of war films by adopting a straightforward approach relentless momentum mirroring that of his principal characters.

Ayer the director occasionally allows Ayer the screenwriter to detour into self-indulgence “” a lengthy encounter with two German girls (Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg) after the U.S. Army has liberated their village goes on far too long “” but never is the film boring.

The final, seemingly suicidal stand against a German battalion on a remote crossroads also goes on rather long but doesn’t skimp on the pyrotechnics. The physical production of Fury is staggering and easily the film’s most persuasive element. It puts the viewer right into the heart and heat of combat. Yet the film doesn’t glamorize or glorify its violence.

Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal and reliable Michael Peña round out the tank crew. Again, Ayer occasionally devotes too much attention to Lerman’s status as a rookie with no combat experience and to Bernthal’s grubby Southern redneck (his nickname, “Coon-Ass,” is far nicer than the character deserves), but the actors perform with conviction and bring a palpable, sometimes prickly, chemistry to their on-screen camaraderie. In some scenes, a helmeted Pitt bears an uncanny resemblance to a young John Wayne, which somehow seems only fitting.