Combustible Celluloid
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With: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal
Written by: David Ayer
Directed by: David Ayer
MPAA Rating: R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Running Time: 134
Date: 10/17/2014

Fury (2014)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tank Generation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though he has a few duds on his resume, David Ayer is known as the writer of Training Day and the writer/director of End of Watch, two movies that focus on the detail-rich workday of cops on the street. After a pause for a disappointing action flick, Sabotage, he's back in that same vein with the WWII movie Fury. But rather than using his small, focused story to heavily underline themes about the horrors of war, Ayer simply follows characters and moments, and lets viewers draw their own conclusions.

In the final days of World War II, American tank crews are stationed deep within Germany, just barely hanging on until the war ends. Commander "Wardaddy" (Brad Pitt) has a gift for keeping his men alive, although they have recently lost one, and a rookie (who has been trained for office work), Norman (Logan Lerman), is ordered to join them. At first, the rest of the crew (Michael Pena, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal) resents him. But after a series of attacks and battles, small victories and big losses, they eventually bond and learn how to work together and respect one another. They are put to the ultimate test when their tank hits a land mine, and are stranded deep within enemy territory.

The cinematography and editing here is striking; Ayer color codes the paths of the bullets so that incoming and outgoing are easily identified, and the interior workings of the cramped tank are given remarkable clarity without the invasion of explanatory dialogue. The device of the "rookie" character is a little worn, but then this entire movie harkens back to a forgotten age when war movies were made by tough guys; when they feel pain, it really matters.

Sony ran out of Blu-ray screeners, and I received a DVD. The only extra is the 11-minute featurette "Blood Brothers." (Plenty of other featurettes appear on the Blu-ray.) There's also a batch of trailers for other Sony releases. The picture and sound quality on the DVD is excellent, so I can only imagine how great it must be in HD. If you're a fan of war films, you won't want to miss this.

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