“Ideals are peaceful, history is violent” passes for profundity in the remarkably uncomplicated and old-fashioned World War II movie Fury. Playing a tank commander named Wardaddy, it’s a straight-faced Brad Pitt who delivers the hokey line. But it might as well be John Wayne, William Holden, or any number of battlefield heroes from the early days of Hollywood — Fury is that far removed from the world of 21st-century film. Only the graphic depiction of heads and limbs getting blown to smithereens marks the movie as a product of the modern age.
Set during a single 24-hour period in the final days of the Great War, Fury has Army sergeant Wardaddy leading his grizzled tank-crew deep into Germany for a series of brutal encounters with Nazis angered by their impending defeat. Pacifist rookie soldier Norman (Logan Lerman) joins the crew just before battle calls, forcing Wardaddy to school the new guy quickly or put his all his crew in jeopardy. It’s a simple setup that evolves in predictable ways, leaving us not as emotionally involved as we should be. Apart from realistic battle scenes, Fury’s primary selling point is the videogame-like thrill of seeing Nazis taken down before they can do the same to us. That’s a slender hook on which to hang a lavishly produced film, and one that seems a bit misguided given the sober nature of the subject matter.
Fury starts today, Oct. 17, at theaters across the New Orleans area.