Director: David Ayera
Starring: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, John Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, and Jason Isaacs
Running time: 135 minutes
It could be the shot selection, the dreaded anticipation of dead bodies or the well-executed storytelling style that puts Fury in the second category. Despite the violence and grim setting, this film is about the suppression of emotions that makes it easier for soldiers to continue with what the 66th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Division describe as “the best job they ever had”.
If there were no well-placed camera angles with fixed shots, audiences could well mistake this for a documentary on World War II. The realism and lack of music only adds weight to each scene. Small details like cleaning out a tank of blood and armoured-vehicles running over an already-flattened corpse may seem gratuitous to those who haven’t read historian Studs Terkel.
To those who have, these small details remind us of how ugly humans can become to one another – and how easy life is for the generations that were born after.
Fury is the name of the M4A3E8 tank driven by the regiment, which is commandeered by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) and includes a veteran crew: Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Grady “Coon-A**” Travis (Jon Bernthal), and Trini “Gordo” Garcia. This squad has been together since the North African Campaign and are, naturally, very close and highly skilled because of it.
The film begins as the crew are making their final push into Nazi Germany in April 1945, just one month before the end of the war. Recently-enlisted soldier Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is assigned to the crew despite never having seen the inside of a tank before – he was initially supposed to be a typist. His innocence and initial compassion towards the Germans makes it difficult for the rest of the lot to get close to him. Collier eventually has to take matters into his own hands and Ellison has to learn to deal with his new occupation.
Audiences can easily relate to Ellison as he reacts the same way anyone in theatres across the world would have. Slowly, the audience picks up as much as Ellison and roots for him to at least become useful, if only for him to finally gain acceptance.
It says something that this a great film that, ultimately, doesn’t have any likeable characters aside from Ellison. These soldiers are merciless, even animalistic at times with little regard of anyone outside of their regiment. Their camraderie is what brings out their humanity and the scenes inside the tank perfectly demonstrate that, through hell, a brotherhood is forged. That said, war is ugly and it’s understandable why they are like this, given the circumstances.
Each character brings a small piece to the table: the two brutes, the bible thumper, the battle-hardened leader and the boy. By the end of Fury, all of these characters are bounded by the harsh realities of war.
There’s no big speech, no rallying cry, no time to think of a way to end things gracefully. There’s mud, blood and more mud sprinkled with images of brutality and the added knowledge that our stars are at the brink of losing more than their lives.