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I went to see the new David Ayer movie Fury, starring Brad Pitt today. This was not a movie that I was super excited to see, but one that I felt was worth viewing. I was right in that assessment. It was a tense, gripping, harrowing, stomach-churning, violent, and visceral look at a tank crew and their missions toward the end of WWII as Allied forces were pushing into Germany. This is a war movie, so there is plenty of action and bombs and guns and gore, but at its core it is a character movie. There was not a bad performance in this movie. I didn’t like every character, but I understood where they were coming from and why.

Brad Pitt plays Don “Wardaddy” Collier, the sergeant in charge of his five man tank crew. He is battle-hardened and both willing and able to be as brutal as he feels necessary to get done what needs to be done, but still retains his humanity and Brad Pitt does an excellent job portraying that dichotomy. I was both horrified by his actions at times and deeply moved by them at others.

Shia LeBeouf plays Boyd “Bible” Swan, Michael Peña plays Trini “Gordo” Garcia, and Jon Bernthal plays Brady “Coon-Ass” Travis. It is easy enough to tell from their nicknames the stereotypes each of these characters are meant to portray and it would be very easy for each of those characters to be one dimensional. Every one of these actors make their characters real and relatable. Logan Lerman plays Norman Ellison, a brand new recruit assigned to their tank after the death of another member. He is also excellent in his portrayal of a very young man thrust into such a terrible war, appalled at its atrocities. The original crew had been together for three years, so such a green recruit replacing their dead comrade is cause for much of the tension and character interaction that follows. Jason Isaacs has a fairly small role as Captain Waggoner, a weary but tough commander who is desperately trying to keep as many of the men under his command alive as possible while completing the mission.

The cinematography is as grim and gritty as the subject matter. I kept thinking that the never-ending mud and grime and smells and smoke would probably be more grinding to the psyche than the violent and bloody, but fairly quick episodes of actual battle. The battle sequences tended, with a couple of exceptions, to be very claustrophobic as would be expected in showing tank warfare. That did not stop them from being intense and graphic and I jumped in my seat more than once.

Fury is fairly long with a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes but it didn’t drag. This is not a movie to see if you are looking for some light entertainment but if you are in the mood for a character driven drama it doesn’t disappoint. And while it doesn’t tell us anything about WWII that hasn’t been seen in previous movies about that war, it reinforces the brutality, inhumanity and senselessness of war and what it does to the men, women and children it impacts. This movie is rated R. Teens are able to handle very tough subject matters if parents are open and willing to talk about it with them afterwords. That said I wouldn’t recommend this movie for anyone under age 13.