“History is violent,” says US Army tank commander Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt) in one of this Second World War movie’s rare quiet moments. And he’s not kidding: Fury is bayonet-to-the-face, grenade-in-the-stomach violent.
It’s April 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank dubbed Fury 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.
Their wide-eyed recruit Norm (Logan Lerman) isn’t willing to kill, or even fight for that matter. But he must learn to put aside his pacifist qualms and mow down Nazis whilst shouting: “Die motherfuckers!” like he means it.
His first job under Wardaddy’s command is to mop up the blood and body parts left behind by his predecessor. “Just wait till you see it,” says Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal) to Norm, with a bitter snarl. “Just wait till you see what a man can do to another man.”
Writer-director David Ayer showing us the horrors of the battlefield through the eyes of the innocent aboard Fury.
As they push further into German territory the motley crew of misfits teach Norm the ways of the world. It’s your standard WW2 how-to training. The youngster learns how to drink, smoke, copulate and oh yeah, kill people.
Like the Sherman tank crew who need to harden Norm, and quick, Fury wants to rub your face in mud and guts. It isn’t entertaining, but it is intensely, joltingly visceral. It shows the reality of war, how it’s an endless nightmare where every option is reduced to kill or be killed.
As Wardaddy leads his tank crew through the horrors of Hitler’s last stand you realise that these aren’t heroes in Hollywood’s usual sense of the word, but then again this isn’t normal Hollywood film-making. It’s even better.
Like his scalp-hungry renegade in Inglourious Basterds, Pitt’s Wardaddy likes killing Nazis, although here his soul appears more hollow for it. Scenes of prisoners being shot in the back and women serving as hapless spoils of war are juxtaposed with much religious breast-beating, Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (an uncharacteristically bearable Shia LaBeouf) quoting scripture whilst Norman wrestles with his conscience.
Fury is a graphic, macho action tank movie, which combines the tough-men-in-peril thrills of an old-fashioned war movie with the modern “war is hell” parable.
I’m thankful that I can’t say if this accurately reflects the horrors of war, but those who have witnessed it say that Fury is uncomfortably close to the reality.
It all gets a bit 80’s A-Team styley towards the end of the movie but I’m not complaining. Who doesn’t love an unnecessarily huge explosion in an action movie? In this case it helps to defuse the misery of war. In the words of Wardaddy “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.”
By Ruth Walker