** and 1/2 out of ****
World War II is largely viewed as a noble war, one where Americans were truly on the side of right, etc. But war is war and horrible things are often done to achieve a valid end. A few WWII movies try to remove the mystique from the conflict, and that’s initially what the new Brad Pitt vehicle Fury seems to be trying to do before it regresses into cliche.
In writer/director David Ayer’s (End of Watch, Sabotage) film, Pitt plays the leader of a tank crew in the final months of the European campaign. He has led his team (also consisting of Shia LaBoeuf, Jon Bernthal, and Michael Pena) from North Africa through Europe and is determined to get them out alive. However, when the film starts, one of their crew’s remains is being scooped out of the tank. He’s replaced by an inexperienced kid (Logan Lerman) who hasn’t even received training in a tank.
In its stronger first hour, Lerman’s character learns the brutal realities of war, that the hesitation of a few seconds can result in multiple deaths, that it’s not always feasible to take prisoners, and other grim truths. As they proceed across the German countryside, civilians who refused to fight for the Nazis dangle lifelessly from posts on the side of the road. At its best, Fury almost suggests a more action-oriented Apocalypse Now in a tank as soldiers see an episodic parade of horrors on a long journey.
But, eventually Pitt and company find themselves stranded and dramatically outnumbered. For the last 45 minutes, the film descends into a generic underdogs-making-a-last-stand tale. Even though there’s nonstop action in this segment, it all feels surprisingly dull compared to the more varied first 60-70 minutes.
History buffs might find this interesting enough to merit the price of a ticket, but others can likely wait until it’s streaming. People with weak stomachs should stay away.