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Graphic, grim and fairly relentless, "Fury" is one of those war-is-hell movies that revel a bit too much in the evil men do.

Writer-director David Ayer ("End of Watch," "Harsh Times," he wrote "Training Day") loves to get down to the ugly nitty-gritty in films, and here he absolutely rolls in the dirt. Bodies are crushed, heads blown off, everybody sports a constant layer of grime, and ideals don't stand a chance.

It's April 1945, and a battle-maddened sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a close-knit Sherman tank crew as it works its way through Germany. Into the volatile mix of a Hispanic driver (Michael Pena), a Christian gunner (Shia LaBeouf) and a backwoods mechanic (Jon Bernthal) comes a new recruit named Norman (Logan Lerman), a fresh-faced kid who thought he was being sent to Germany to type.

No such luck. Norman is soon introduced to the horrors of war, and, under Wardaddy's tutelage, he transforms from nice, scared boy to Nazi-killing machine, bonding with his brothers in the tank even as he's appalled by their monstrous tendencies.

There isn't all that much plot here, mostly grisly battle scenes tempered with a tense afternoon of respite in a fallen town, leading to the inevitable and somewhat cliched final slaughter scene. Ayer is tracking the fall of innocence and the wretched intimacy of war, sure, but he's also exulting in machine guns mowing down bodies upon bodies.

In the end, the film's macho swagger leaves little room for subtlety or character, although all the actors involved do fine work. "Fury" is a brutal film that too easily celebrates rage and bloodshed to no clear end beyond ugly spectacle.

TLong@detroitnews.com

'Fury'

GRADE: C+

Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout

Running time: 134 minutes

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