With the latest Brad Pitt star vehicle Fury, writer-director David Ayers delivers an action movie that puts the collateral damage of war and the arbitrariness of sanctioned violence into plain view.

How battle hardens

 

Pitt plays Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, a battle-scarred, gutsy and resourceful WW2 sergeant who has led a loyal tank unit through campaigns in Africa, the Normandy landings, France, Belgium, and now he and his men are on a final push into Germany. By his side are Bible-quoting gunner Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), brutish mechanic Grady Travis (Jon Bertnthal) and put-upon Mexican lead driver Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Peña).

When their second driver is killed in action, they are assigned a wet-behind-the-ears replacement in the shape of Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), whose army experience to date amounts to eight weeks in the typing pool. When Norman’s hesitancy fails to prevent an ambush, Wardaddy is on hand with a harsh us-or-them life lesson that soon turns the raw recruit into an effective killing machine.

Even as the lengthy shoot-em-up battle scenes are viewed from the perspective of (mostly) heroic Allied troops seeing off evil Nazis, the camera unwaveringly details and questions the dehumanising costs of war. Bodies are plundered for trophies or crushed under the tracks as the tanks advance. Missions are murderous or suicidal. Sexual escapades with the Mädchen, whose towns the troops flatten, are considered vital to the greater cause. And both sides are bolstered by unwilling child recruits. The claustrophobic camaraderie inside the tank contrasts with the boundless, incomprehensible battle arena outside, and the audience is left shattered by encircling stories of unnecessary killing and corrupted innocence.

Fury, written and directed by David Ayers, starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal, is released throughout the UK on Friday 24th October, with limited preview screenings at selected cinemas from Wednesday 22nd.

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