I first heard about Fury (2014) from all the on location antics that came courtesy of Shia LaBeouf who was having a bit of a break down. If you watch closely you can see which tooth he pulled out that he believed would help him get more into character. Before Brad Pitt had to step in and tell him to not take things too seriously, which if I’m honest is more in character for Pitt’s character Don “Wardaddy” Collier who finds inner strength to carry on and keep his men alive in a tank that has seen its fair share of WWII, from Africa to most of war-torn Europe. His team are all that’s left of his platoon, you can see how close they are in and out of Fury the tank that has for better or worse kept these brave solider alive.
Noted already for its realism, taking first hand advice from tank veteran Bill Betts acting advisor on the film, who helped ensure a high level of realism, a bar since raised after Saving Private Ryan (1998) which throws the audience into a relentless volley of bullets as soon as the soldiers land at the begin of the Normandy landings, its sheer hell for what feels like forever. Beefed up in Nazi Germany where we find a tired tank crew who are changed men, trigger happy in the face of the enemy who remain for the most part nameless. The best way for the enemy of the War genre, this way their death is more satisfying.
It’s not about sides here, it’s about the humanity of the solider, the human cost of war, whatever the side, being driven to the limit by the enemy to carry on regardless. There is little left of the human soul of a peaceful man on either side, tired, fed up wanting to go home, held back by an enemy who doesn’t know the meaning of the word surrender. Throw into that a fresh-faced typist Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) unaware of what war is beyond the desk he was once sat behind. Now in at the deep end, needing to grow up and fast. We follow him on his journey as he is the new member of a solid team who are ready for action and at the same time sick of the sight of Germans, known only as krauts. With colourful language that really adds to a war numbed team. Gone are the fun days of Telly Savalas roaming around in the tank taking shreds out of the enemy, we have filthy teams who are pretty much past caring, carry out their orders then let rip, release however they can. All this is new to Norman who is forced to kill his first German, seen as a right of passage, essential part of fighting the enemy. Something that is long behind most of the men around him. Norman’s journey continues in the next town where he meets a young German girl who he sleeps with, is this a form of relieve, a right of passage into man-hood? It’s not explained, left open to interpretation, he forms an attachment that will probably haunt him for the rest of his life. The real lesson is that everyone suffers in war, you just need to learn to accept that fact to move on to the next campaign.
What makes this film work is the time in the tank, the confined dirty squalid environment where these men rise to the challenge, somehow getting out by the skin of their teeth to see another day. All these come to a head with the final showdown that last what seems like forever, with he tank taking out of action they have one final battle, it’s all or nothing for these men who invite the German’s into a bloodbath the likes I have never seen before, becoming cows for the slaughter in a wash of bullets and anything that can be fired. Leaning heavily into overkill literally. The excitement is tiring for the audience who see day turn into a fire of blood the likes I have not seen before, not even something that Peckinpah wouldn’t even dare choreograph for The Cross of Iron (1977). Going off into the deep end from realism into all out theatrics. This is where the realism of war ends blurring into Hollywood fantasy, the heroes are clearly defined here. Before it was a game of survival turning into a trigger happy orgy.
Still at the heart of this is a young man who is just starting out, finding his place in the war and life, understanding what it is to be a man, in a world at war. Surrounded by others who are just as s***-scared as him, having learnt to cope with it or go mad from all the horrors they have encountered. That is what I will take away from a film that doesn’t glorify war, seeing it as necessary evil to rid evil bringing out the worst in both sides of conflict.
- “Fury” (2014) (macremi.wordpress.com)