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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Fury | Brad Pitt, Shia LaBoeuf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Fury | Brad Pitt, Shia LaBoeuf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman | Review

It’s the word painted on the side of the main cannon on the gun turret of 2nd Armored Division’s Sherman tank and crew commanded by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Don ”Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt).  April, 1945 finds Wardaddy’s crew on a mission in Germany, deep inside enemy lines, sometimes solo, sometimes teaming up with other armored divisions to literally crush, shoot, and bomb the enemy from the safety and close quarters of their rolling iron fortress.

Collier’s crew includes Army Tech Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Cpl Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña), and PFC Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal).

As if there weren’t enough conflict involved with operating an American Sherman tank through the middle of Nazi Germany, the Wardaddy crew is assigned clerk-typist Private Norman Travis (Logan Lerman) as its new driver.  Travis’s Army career is eight-weeks old. By contrast, Wardaddy’s other members are battle-hardened veterans of African tank conflicts with Germany’s infamous General Rommel.  They’ve seen it all, done it all, killed it all; Travis knows how to type.

The young private’s first task is to clean up the interior of the tank, which includes wiping up massive amounts of blood as well as half of the face of his predecessor.  Travis pukes, and the crew, led by Collier, set about toughening up the wide-eyed lad who could jeopardize their lives on future missions.

The five-man crew rolls through war-torn enemy territory in a wake of devastation.  Outnumbered and sometimes outmaneuvered by superior enemy machinery (the German Panzer tank could routinely kick the Sherman’s armored ass) Wardaddy wends its way through towns and countryside, destroying infrastructure and covert enemy combatants along the way.

In the random, senseless sequences of war, Bible verses are quoted one minute and someone’s stabbed in the eye the next. Children are hung from lamp posts while a female voice sings to piano accompaniment in a building that will soon be bombed to rubble.

Writer/director David Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch) pulls no punches in his depiction of ordinary people in desperate circumstances.  With an emphasis on the immediacy of war, Fury contains no flashbacks.  There is some exposition on the crew’s past, as well as a startling scene of a war wound on Collier’s body.  

Events take place in present time.  It is Travis’s journey and evolution we follow; Collier’s had his, and what’s left of the man becomes apparent in his actions.  He’s like the world-weary father, alternately teaching his crew “offspring” honorable offenses and being offensive himself in a world full of conflicts and conflicted behavior.

Grisly, raw, and well-acted, Fury grips and turns the viewer’s head to stare at the starkness and desolation of machine warfare on delicate flesh and blood.  We are plopped into the middle of the fray and experience all of the dangers, claustrophobia, and horrors of its players.

Pitt’s Collier, full of weariness and wisdom, portrays cynicism, brutality and valor with a believable versatility.  Shia LaBeouf, it is said, transformed himself into a grizzled G.I. by removing one of his own teeth for the role and refusing to bathe during the entire production.  Peña and Bernthal round out the unquiet quintet with performances that illuminate the crude camaraderie of their circumstances.

There are some odd choices made.  One is the inclusion a colorful mini-dress worn by Emma (Alicia von Rittberg) a town resident whose apartment is invaded by Collier and Travis.  Its bright colors and short length are anachronistic to the era, curious in an otherwise accurate depiction of events.

The Travis character is much too green to join an experienced tank division during its most dangerous assignment.  This coupled with a surprising (and nearly unbelievable) decision toward the end of the film changes its outcome a bit too conveniently.  All those combined are not enough to discourage its viewing.

The best that can be said for Fury is that it “tanks.”  And that is a GOOD thing.


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