Sunday night and yet another weekend is slipping away. BUT, as is always my goal when there are films to see….I make the way to do just that. The third film of this weekend was the only mainstream release on my “watch list”, and was one that takes place during one of the most volatile times in world history, and one of the most costly to our military…World War II. So with that in mind, I give you…..”Fury”.
SEE THE TRAILER HERE
Directed by David Ayer (“Street Kings“, “End of Watch“) who also wrote the screenplay, the film starts us off in the battle-ravaged fields of Germany in April 1945, near the end of WWII. Amidst the burned out ruins of tanks, we are introduced (in rather brutal fashion) to Sgt. Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt), commander of an American Sherman tank named ‘Fury’. This also includes its battle-hardened crew, Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Pena), and Grady ‘Coon-A@#’ Travis (Jon Bernthal). After suffering the loss of a veteran member of the crew, a re-supply stop at an American base yields a replacement in the form of Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), whom we found out quickly is NOT trained for the duty he has now been assigned, much to the reluctance and disappointment of Collier and his crew. However, circumstances arise when the base commander, Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs), advises that Fury and several other tanks are needed for a recue mission. Thrust into his new position with hardly any training, it becomes a savagely intense trial by fire for Ellison, who experiences the absolute brutality of war straight on, and in doing so, fails his post, and then questions his even BEING a part of the crew, much less the war. Determined to ultimately make him a soldier, Collier forces Ellison into a situation that only serves to reinforce Ellison’s hesitations about what they are all there to do, again to Collier’s frustration, yet, also via an unspoken understanding of what Ellison is dealing with. Another mission leads them to a German town where Ellison starts to show that his mettle is slowly growing as more engagements with Nazi troops ensue. But, an unexpected encounter with two local German women, Irma (Anamarie Marinca) and her cousin Emma (Alicia von Rittberg), cause BOTH Ellison and Collier to take a slightly different perspective on life in the middle of chaos, though much to the chagrin of the rest of Fury’s crew. When the town is racked with a sudden attack, Ellison learns again that getting to close to anyone is a dangerous thing in war, as loss can come swiftly and without mercy. As more losses rack up, and further encounters (including a harrowing one with a German Tiger) deplete the number of American tanks, Waggoner has issued one more order for Collier to complete in defending a strategic crossroads. When THAT situation turns dire, it becomes the ultimate test of the resolve and courage of Fury’s crew, their loyalty to one another, and the lengths they are all willing to go to do their duty. More details than that would be the wonderful world of Spoiler-ville, and we are NOT traveling to that destination today (or EVER)!
As I watched this film, it continues to remind me that anyone who would ever say war is glorious, needs to get their facts straight. This is not the first time WWII has been brought to brutal life in film, with other works like “Saving Private Ryan“, “The Pacific“, and “Band of Brothers“, among many others, and I won’t necessarily say this film MATCHED those in OVERALL quality. BUT….that stated….this should NOT take away from the fact this is one intense ride, and another illustration of the toll that WWII took on the men who served and fought in it, given the sheer savagery they encountered in the skirmishes with the Nazi army, and the acti0ns that they were made to do to win and survive. This was most certainly a story ultimately centered on Lerman’s Ellison, who very much brought to vivid reality the horror, shock, and serious reservations that a newly recruited soldier would face when encountering battle for the first time, much less being such a direct part of it as one of Fury’s support gunners. This lesson being taught even more directly in the confrontation with Collier that Ellison has on the battlefield also serves to reinforce how harsh men become when having seen and done the things they had to. And through all of this, Ellison ultimately has a positive impact on the rest of the crew, even as he deals with his own sense of morality in what duties he is required to perform. Pitt did an excellent job as Collier, being able to realistically bring out Collier’s own anger and fierceness while also showing that he DOES have a heart and DOES care for his crew. And he is a leader that demands the best from his men and has the ways to motivate them as such. LaBeouf, Pena, and Bernthal also perform well, each of their characters having the distinctive traits and personalities that earned them the nick-names given to them over the years of service on Fury. And the moment in the German town with Collier, Ellison, Irma, and Emma was a potent reminder of the innocence war takes away, and the casualties it also brings about. Visually, the film is visceral in its battles sequences, as again, war is NOT glorious OR pretty, and many of the engagements are shock-inducing. But the film also takes the time to build its characters via several scenes made for straight dramatic build-up. And this was needed to at least try to soften the otherwise grim realities of the war they’re all fighting. Add a solid soundtrack that most certainly complimented the appropriate moments, and you have a great effort on the part of writer/director Ayer. This film effectively takes you back to this huge part of world history and, while a fictional story, it still gives one a heavy dose of the hard truth that war DOES drastically change those who are in it, and how that is dealt with can all come down to those immediately around you, and having that sense of trust, perseverance, and the bravery to face the odds, no matter how daunting they may be.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!