October 23, 2014
It was April 1945, World War II was in its final chapters. We follow a jaded, war-weary sergeant code-named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) leading his five-man team on board his Sherman tank named Fury on various attack or rescue missions within German borders. His gunner Bible (Shia LaBeouf) is a deeply religious man. His munitions loader Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) is a belligerent redneck type. His driver Gordo (Michael Pena) is a smart-talking Mexican American.
New on his team as assistant driver is young Norman (Logan Lerman), a military greenhorn whose only previous duty was typing letters behind a desk. This assignment thrusts innocent Norman headlong into the thick of the brutality of war and forces him toughen up faster than he ever had before. When Fury breaks down in the middle of the German countryside, with 300-man strong Nazi troops marching their way, Wardaddy and his crew have to make the biggest decision of their lives -- to hide or to fight.
Brad Pitt gives another Oscar-bait performance as Wardaddy. Despite his modern-looking ever perfectly coifed hair style, he manages to deliver a believable portrayal of a physically and emotionally-scarred military man. He had seemingly little humanity left in him, yet in the most dire of situations, his heart would still rise to the surface.
As the war-shocked Norman, Logan Lerman goes way beyond what he was made to do in his Percy Jackson films. He held his own among the more experienced company. Pitt and Lerman share a quiet moment in the middle of the film with two German women which were effective acting moments for the two men, though the whole sequence was inherently disturbing.
After his real life meltdowns that hound the tabloids, it is good to see Shia LaBeouf give what must be his career-best performance right here. His emotionally-labile character gives LaBeouf a chance to shine, and he does just that with devastating restraint.
The technical aspects of this film were flawless. The cinematography, film editing, make-up, visual effects and sound editing were excellent in establishing the horrors and brutality of war. Those two big scenes with the tanks (first one picking up soldiers trapped in the battlefield and a second one battling a German super-tank) were so well-executed and were the real highlights of the whole film. I thought the laser-light effects for the bullets being shot (not usually seen in previous World War II films) were effective in adding excitement to the battle scenes. The production design is especially worth mentioning because of its meticulousness and accuracy, especially when it came to weaponry and vehicles.
It is difficult to make anything very original anymore about World War II, so most of what we see are variations of what we have previously seen before. The theme of a young private brutally exposed to the deadly reality of war has definitely had other incarnations before. We hardly know anything about any of the crew members before they were soldiers. The Germans seem to be missing their targets a lot, while the Americans were perfect shots. The final scene involving a German soldier in the film also seemed unlikely to happen in real life.
However, despite these few quibbles, the film remains to be a very good war film. It may not really be in the level of "Saving Private Ryan" or "Schindler's List", but most audiences, especially war film aficionados, will surely like this one as well. 7/10.