Fury is one of the most powerful films I have seen in a long time, certainly the best war film for years (in my opinion). It was Saving Private Ryan meets Platoon by way of The Pacific. There were no rose tinted specs glorifying war: it was laid bare with no detail spared.
For me, the sign of a well-made film is a high level of detail. I am an observant person and tend to wonder off focus in films and observe the background, surroundings and extras. The injured soldiers being attended to in the background at certain points, their guts being stuffed back into their stomachs, at other moments, the photos and memorabilia in the tank: attention to detail makes the film seem that much more immersive and real.
The World War II-set story centres around a depleted platoon of Americans fighting on the front line in 1945 Germany. The team of five have been together through the entire war and are thick as thieves. Unfortunately, their front gunner has just had his face blown off (literally) so young typist Norman Ellis (Logan Luhrman) is drafted in. His naïvety and inexperience is stark in comparison to Brad Pitt’s Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier and his troop of hardened men. Norman has only been in the army eight weeks, has never killed anyone and doesn’t want to be there, declaring his call up as a mistake.
The platoon that operate the tank, Fury, however, are settled into their roles, which they describe as the ‘best job ever’. They take pleasure in killing every last SS member they come across; they even shoot German corpses to make sure they’re dead.
Wardaddy says he started fighting Germans in Africa, then in France, then in Belgium, now in Germany. He is harsh, but cares for his troop. He has promised all of them that he will get them back to their families. These killing machines do have hearts and personalities. They are all religious, especially Shia La Beouf’s character, Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan. Within the tank there is also the abrasive hilbilly Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis and no-nonsense Mexican Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia. They work together with great efficiency, like a well oiled machine. These men have become a family, and the machine that is Fury has become their home.
Yes, they are perhaps a little stereotypical, but it reflects the archetypes of WW2 American troops: the strong leader, the inexperienced youngster, the bible basher, the funny foreigner and the uneducated scruff. The film also reflects the morale that built up between these men in an unoriginal, but accurate way. Norman is the beta to Wardaddy’s alpha, and they play the roles so well. Lurhman spends most of the film looking pale with shock, bottom lip trembling and eyes holding back tears as opposed to Pitt’s strong, stoic exterior.
But there are moments where Wardaddy shows what’s under his armour; like when Norman has to make his first kill with Wardaddy forcing him to go through with it. The despair that Pitt conveys with one look when the deed is done was enough to bring a catch to my throat. And I pretty much spent the last twenty minutes of the film bawling. It’s powerful stuff.
In one poignant moment of the film, when Wardaddy reveals the decency beneath his aggressive exterior, he says to Norman: “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.” In my opinion, that sums Fury up pretty well.