(David Ayer, 2014)

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

: A film less about war and more about internal battles, David Ayer's 'Fury' is a WW2 picture for the ages.

Set almost entirely within or directly around an American Sherman tank, 'Fury' could've been a 'Kelly's Heroes'-style war romp that explodes history for its entertainment but in writer-director David Ayer's hands it's something much more powerful.

It concerns the tank's five man crew - the classic, cliched cocktail of a seasoned veteran (Brad Pitt), an inexperienced newbie (Logan Lerman) and a trio of disparate soldiers (Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal).

Set in the heart of Germany in the final days of the second world war (a fact that they're not aware of), 'Fury' isn't concerned with the timeline or a world view point. German actors in a German tank on the other side of the war would've been just as effective - this isn't a portrait of America, but rather an analysis of men pushed to their limits. David Ayer's script is universal, not judgemental.

As he did with his police thrillers 'End of Watch' and 'Training Day', Ayer proves himself to be a fine interpreter of men's response to the sudden burden of power and threat of incomprehensible danger. Pitt is the star that keeps the film together with his layered performance that displays so many of his character's (and the film's) essential traits: honour, anger, compassion, determination, paternal instincts and embittered heroism.

Ayer's direction is thrilling. 'Fury' remains riveting even in its quietest moments. A moment around a dinner table in a rare moment outside of the tank holds just as much suspense and character-shredding as the film's savage battle scenes.

'Fury' has the poetry and mud-drenched beauty of something like 'The Thin Red Line' juxtaposed with the claustrophobia of 'Das Boot'. Ayer's film may lack the scope of the genre's true epics, but it deserves a high ranking among this generation's roster of classic war pictures.

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