There are many great movies set in World War 2. Saving Private Ryan, Das Boot, The Big Red One, and The Dirty Dozen spring to mind. (I did not include Schindler’s List because it is about so much more than World War 2.) Fury is not one of the great World War 2 movies, but it is very good.
Fury tells the story of a tank crew in the last days of World War 2. The tank commander, Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt), and his crew—Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini Garcia (Michael Peña), and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal)—have been together for a while. After a crew member is lost, they are joined by Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a typist that has only been in the Army for eight weeks. Each member of the crew fits in with the tropes that we have seen in war movies in the past. Pitt plays the hardened leader, tough with a heart of gold. Peña plays the Hispanic, emotional tank driver. Lerman is the new recruit that will change over the course of the film. Bernthal plays the back woods Arkansas redneck that comes across as a huge jerk but is really decent inside. In the hands of lesser actors, these characters would come across as stale and one dimensional.
Then there is LaBeouf. Much has been made in the past about Shia LaBeouf’s movies and him in particular. This movie should put that talk to rest, mostly. Shia’s performance as the religious Boyd Swan could have become a caricature of what a religious character in a movie should be, but it does not. His is the deepest and most complex character in the film. His reactions during the dinner scene alone should garner him at least a nomination, if not the Best Supporting Actor award. Shia shows that when he is not running from giant robots or alien skulls, he can act.
The plot of Fury has the tank designated to guard and protect a crossroads. This becomes difficult, as the tank becomes disabled when it rolls over a land mine and the track breaks. While the heroes are replacing the track, a company of German SS appears. It is then up to the crew to defend their crossroads.
On a personal note, it was good to see a movie that dealt with the 2nd Armored Division. When I was in the Army, I had the privilege of serving in this storied division and even got the honor of standing in the ceremony when it was inactivated and became the 4th Infantry Division. While I was not a tanker, it was an honor to wear the “Hell on Wheels” patch.
Fury is rated R for language and violence, albeit neither are gratuitous.