First Hit: Powerful story about how war will change people.
War is a tough place to learn about who you are in relation to the people you work with and an enemy that wants to kill you.
Norman (Logan Lerman) has been assigned to the Fury, a tank led by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt). His crew of Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), and Jon “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal), have been together for years and through thick and thin. With much sadness they recently lost their assistant driver/gunner.
Norman was supposed to be a clerk typist and now he’s been ordered into Wardaddy’s tank that is heading to the front line. He tells Don he won’t shoot anyone and that he'd rather die than to kill. But as the team thrives as a group, he must learn how to kill.
The tank crew is a family that depends on each other and this film exemplifies the positives and difficulties of this tank family life. The close quarters of the tank is made larger here by shooting one person at a time but you never forget that this is a close quarters tank. Wardaddy is clearly in charge of his crew and he has a single focus to do his part against the Germans.
The pall of war is magnificently expressed in the color of each shot, whether it is inside or outside the tank. The dark haze of daylight exemplified the feelings of oppression and sadness that death brings.
Pitt is really strong in his performance of control over his crew, yet allowing and creating space for his guys to be who they are. The edges of this were defined in the scene where they had met two women in a building and building intense conversation and over the meal the women had prepared. Lerman was a revelation in his transformation to someone who would finally say; “best job I ever had”. LaBeouf was very strong as the guy who could quote scripture and drive the hell out of the tank. Pena was very good as Gordo and gunner. Bernthal was scary good as the guy always on the edge of sanity. David Ayer wrote and directed this film. The writing was as strong as his clear direction to fully take the audience deep into the world of a tank and the crew.
Overall: Although war films are not my favorite genre, the characters elevated this film to a very high place.