The reptilian or lower brain controls basic life functions such as breathing, the fight-or- flight mechanism and the inner voice that insists it isn't really a proper movie unless it has a cowboy or a tank in it. Luckily, the new film from David Ayer, a proper director, casts not just any old tank, but a M4A3E8 Sherman in the titular role. It's left to sidekick Brad Pitt's hard-bitten sergeant – he's nicknamed Wardaddy, so we know he's awesome sauce – to command a socially and ethnically diverse armoured division of bad-asses, including the Religious One (LeBeouf, on top form, much to the disappointment of Beouf- bashers), the Psycho One (The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal), the Damaged One (Michael Peña) and the New Guy (Percy Jackson's Logan Lerman).
Together, they banter and bicker and work towards a stand-off in which they are hopelessly outgunned. It’s the dying days of the second World War and, having fought all the way from North Africa, the gang are on the final stretch to Berlin. Hitler has declared total war, so women and children bear arms and SS officers hang the non-compliant.
Ayer, the keen mind behind Hard Times and Deep Blue, is less sentimental than many American directors. The men are never more menacing than when fighting among themselves. While no one could mistake Fury for Elem Klimov's great Come and See, the film is defined by properly muddy battlefields, littered with corpses.
DOP Roman Vasyanov who previously collaborated with the writer-director on End of Watch, makes terrific use of confined space. Steven Price's Teutonic score is obvious, yet effective. Ayer's screenplay is minimal, and he cleverly shapes Pitt's character and performance to please fans of Inglourious Basterds' Lieutenant Aldo.
Fury pivots around a pleasing simplicity. Good guys do good. Nazis get shot. A proper film, in other words. Did we mention Fury has a tank?
Opens Wednesday, October 22nd