April 1945. As the allies push further and further into a defeated Germany, the crew of a Sherman tank, nick-named Fury, encounter hostile resistance wherever they go. When a valued member of their team is killed, he’s replaced by raw recruit, Norman (Logan Lermann,) a man more versed in using a typewriter than a machine gun. The tank’s battle-hardened sergeant, War Daddy (Brad Pitt) realises that if Norman is going to have a chance of survival, he’s going to require a swift and brutal indoctrination and that’s exactly what he gets.
Director David Ayer seems to be in his element when depicting men under pressure – his last release, End of Watch, deals with two cops on the firing line and the bond that exists between them, and here, Ayer successfully portrays the bloody mayhem of battle as seen from the claustrophobic confines of a tank. The battle scenes are mesmerisingly hideous and the moments in between reveal more about the crew themselves and the dehumanising aspects of war. By the way, those of you who normally operate a ‘No Shia Le Beouf Policy’ can relax. Here, he’s totally convincing as a religious man fighting to keep hold of his belief as hell unfolds around him.
The film has been criticised in America for the scene in which War Daddy makes Norman execute an unarmed German solider. It’s harrowing, for sure, but this is a film about warfare and the scene feels totally believable, just one more barbaric act amidst a maelstrom of destruction. Its central message, that war corrupts and destroys everything in its path is no great revelation, but you’ll emerge from this feeling that you have been in the thick of battle and if nothing else, you’ll feel a greater appreciation for what soldiers endured during the Second World War and how much we have to thank them for.
But be warned, this is no date movie. A scene where Norman is obliged to scrape what’s left of the face of his predecessor off the seat he is to occupy requires a strong stomach. It’s powerful stuff, not for the faint-hearted.