April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, battle-hardened army sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, 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.
History Is Violent
In a compelling portrayal of the final battlefields of WWII, Fury transports audiences to a time and place that many saw, but few ever returned from. Director David Ayer holds nothing back in his depiction of the brutality of war, and the endless fight that it appears to be.
Living off of sips of hope that they might see the end, the men of the 2nd Armoured Division are taking each day as it comes, knowing that this conflict is coming to an end, but without the comfort of certainty. Dropping the audience in the blood, guts and mud of the German front, any possibility or hope for glory is absent in this chronicle. Instead, you have ordinary men who are just trying to survive, while still retaining some of the humanity that they started off with.
The battles comes quick in Fury, with the pace and vigor of an ambush leaving men broken and dead. The most impressive battle of the film has to be the showdown between the crew of the Fury, a M4A3E8 Sherman tank and a German Tiger I, which must be seen to be believed. Ayer also injects a good dose of symbolism within the film, and when combined with authentic costuming, set design and Steven Price’s haunting score, creates a compelling film that honours the men who fought and sacrificed themselves.
Best Job I Ever Had
When it comes to the cast, Ayer has assembled a dream team with five amazing actors portraying incredibly different characters who inhabit the interior of a rolling Sherman tank named ‘Fury’.
Brad Pitt leads the pack as Sgt. Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, a veteran of the North African, Normandy, and Belgium campaigns who has seen far too much war, and understands that men must die before his job can be finished. In Pitt’s performance, you get the sense of a man who has slowly but steadily lost his humanity and replaced this with the mission of getting his men home. No matter the task given to him by his superiors, Collier’s first priority is his crew, who affectionately call him ‘Top’. Pitt roughs it up as Collier, showing some serious aggression, and a ‘kill first, think later’ philosophy. Just like his crew, audiences will look to Collier in awe thanks to Pitt’s rousing performance.
At odds with Collier is new replacement gunner Norman Ellison, played by Logan Lerman — a naïve ‘green boy’ fresh from basic who has never seen the inside of a tank. Lerman effectively portrays the new kid who has no comprehension of what real violence is, and gets a very mean lesson thanks to Collier. Lerman also showcases an empathy as Norman, which also breaks up the rawness of Fury, giving the film some of its most touching moments.
The conscience of the tank crew comes in the form of Shia LaBeouf’s Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan, and as his name suggests, is a firm believer in God and a higher calling. Swan forms somewhat of a collective conscience for the crew, guiding them through the horrors of the war. However, as the operator of the tank’s main gun, he also dispenses quite a bit of it as well. This creates great conflict for Swan, and LeBouf expresses it perfectly cementing his place as the film’s scene stealer.
Michael Pena takes on the role of tank driver Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia, a Mexican America who brings a certain flair to the crew of the ‘Fury’, as well as some slick driving abilities. As the prime navigator of the tank, Garcia is in the thick of the action at all times, and maintains a hard attitude when it comes to Norman.
Finally Jon Bernthal completes the crew as gunner assistant Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis — the resident bully of the ‘Fury’ who has no time for Norman, and develops an antagonistic relationship with him. As things progress, you come to believe that he wasn’t always like this, and that the war has had a detrimental effect on his psyche and behaviour. Bernthal completely disappears into the role of Travis, creating a character that audiences may not respect, but will certainly come to empathise with.
Fury is a whirlwind of blood, guts and loyalty, and it stands as a compelling vision of the rawness of war. Intensely dramatic, it is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.