Directed and written by David Ayer
Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBoeuf, Jason Isaacs, Michel Peña, and Scott Eastwood
In April 1945, World War II seems to be coming to an end, yet for the crewmembers of an American tank, the horrors and dangers of war continue as they face their daily mission in German territory. Leading the mission is the fierce Sergeant Collier, who finds Ellison, a simple soldier on his first mission, a part of his crew.
The cruelty of war — which is described emblematically through Sergeant Wardaddy Collier’s words, “Ideals are peaceful; history is violent” — is seen through the eyes of a greenhorn. Although this is nothing new, Ayer (who also made Training Day and the first Fast & Furious) tells the story in the restricted space of the passenger compartment of an army tank, which will become home, fort, and, perhaps, tomb to five men.
That the viewer knows he finds himself in the last month of war (even the characters are aware that the conflict is coming to an end) does not diminish, but rather amplifies the tragedy of each death, making it seem even more painful. This is not because the deaths are useless, but precisely because it forces one to recognize that Hitler’s request to the German people to kill “every last man” makes the Allies’ efforts absolutely necessary.
However, what is most striking is the efficiency with which the screenwriter designs his characters: the fierce Collier, to whom Brad Pitt gives a great sense of truthfulness and tragedy (which contrasts with the desired stiffness of a similar character like Lieutenant Reine in Inglourious Basterds); the “pure” Ellison, through whom Logan Lerman superbly depicts the loss of innocence of his character; and lastly, the comrades in arms: soldiers who are tried by long years of service, each with his own personality and vision.
In fact, the movie combines beautiful, dirty, and captivating scenes of war with scenes in which characters strive against each other and their visions of reality clash. It is in scenes of this sort that Collier first finds himself trying to convince Ellison of the need to kill as many Germans as possible. Yet, the sergeant finds himself trying to defend two German women from the abuse of their own people.
It is the symbol of a contradiction that lives in everyone’s heart, that is forged, and to some extent purified by the firing of the weapons that sweep away one comrade after the other from Tank Fury, leaving our last point of defense to be the allied troops on their march.
This contradiction also has a spiritual dimension to it from the moment in which all the men in Fury declare, in one way or another, their relationship with God: from Bible (Shia LaBouef), who, like a true Protestant, cites Scripture and sees the work of God in everything that happens, to the unbelieving companions, to their leader, Collier, who holds many surprises on this topic…
Far from exalting war as such, Ayer’s film captures all its horrors (yet still giving space to acts of mercy), and ultimately giving space to brotherhood and to a spirit of sacrifice that become the final word in the face of death.
Viewer discretion is advised: numerous scenes of brutal violence.
Luisa Cotta Ramosino is an Italian television writer and creative producer; she is also a regular contributor to the website Sentieri del cinema and Scegliere un film, an annual collection of film reviews.