There's goodness even amid the hell of war

There's goodness even amid the hell of war
The cast on their Sherman tank: (from left) LaBeouf, Lerman, Pitt, Pena and Bernthal.


Action/134 minutes/Opens Wednesday

Rating: 3.5/5

The story: It is April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in Europe, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and its five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.

Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Amid a never-ending blaze of tanks, grenades and machine guns, one would be hard-pressed to get a short respite from all the action between scenes in World War II films. Columbia Picture's upcoming Fury, however, has very nearly found the right balance.

Set in Germany towards the end of the war, Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier and his crew are the only tank crew to have survived a recent battle. Despite losing one of their crew members, they press on.

Battling alongside Wardaddy are Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), the gunner; Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), the loader; and Trini Garcia (Michael Pena), the driver of the tank nicknamed Fury.

These men have seen the worst of the war. But director David Ayer, notable for being the writer of Training Day (2001), gives his characters just a hint of compassion. This becomes more evident in Wardaddy, especially with the arrival of Norman Ellison.

Played by Logan Lerman, best known for his title role in the Percy Jackson films, Ellison is sent to replace Fury's fallen member. This is when things really pick up. Combat is not what he's trained for. He is trained to "type 60 words a minute", as he eloquently puts it.

Terrified of war and unwilling to kill, Lerman's portrayal of Ellison makes you wonder why he is not the star of the film and keeps you silently rooting for the underdog.

His goodness is tainted when he is forced to kill an enemy soldier by Wardaddy, who pulls the trigger with Ellison's fingers clenched below his. This event marks the beginning of Ellison's evolution from a typist to a soldier in order to survive.

But Wardaddy is not just a cold-blooded killer. After capturing a town, he notices a couple of German women (Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg) in a nearby building. He then heads in their direction, bringing Ellison along.

Soldiers going after some women? One might expect more scenes of brutality. But the scene which unfolds in a quaint apartment showcases the humanity behind the soldiers' cold exterior. Wardaddy lets them live and even gives the women food while Ellison plays a piano.

This humanitarianism is visible not only on the American side, but on the German side during the final scene as well. After a battle in which Wardaddy's tank crew are the only Allied soldiers left and they are up against a few hundred German troops, an interesting thing occurs involving a character and a flashlight.

It is a nice way to wrap up the movie and reveals the compassion that lies even in the most war-hardened soldier.

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