Fury starring Brad Pitt.
Good war films are always two things. Brutal. And powerful. Fury is both of those. It is relentless throughout and doesn’t fall into the common trap of glorifying war. Fury is the name of a tank whose crew are the focus of the film as they lead a push into Germany near the end of the Second World War (April 1945 to be exact).
The acting credits chiefly go to Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt) the war-weary but ruthless captain of Fury and Norman (Logan Lerman) the recruit who experiences the brutality of front-line warfare for the first time. The two are fantastic throughout and the difficult relationship between the two of them and Norman’s rite of passage into becoming a soldier is very much the core of the film. Initially reluctant to kill Nazis (especially child-soldiers and prisoners) to the point where his hesitation actually costs another tank crew their lives, Norman is an outsider in his squad. A particularly disturbing scene where ‘Wardaddy’ forces Norman to shoot a captured German prisoner sets the tone for the film. The supporting cast of driver ‘Gordo’ (Michael Pena), gunner ‘Bible’ (Shia Labeouf) and loader Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal) all perform well (indeed, LaBeouf is one of my least favourite actors, but he does the job here).
The direction and look of the film is admirable and realistic, and backed up by a superb emotional score by Steven Price (who did the music for Gravity). Some of the imagery is haunting (a woman chopping up a dead horse for food, dead children who have been hanged by the SS for refusing to fight, a tank crew burnt alive by an incendiary bomb thrown by child soldiers etc.) and relentless – if anyone has a romanticised view of being a soldier, you won’t have it by the end of the film. The morality displayed here is a definitely grey one, with ‘Wardaddy’s utter hatred of SS soldiers leading to several of them (while defenceless) being executed without a second thought. As Pitt says after one of the supporting characters gets killed ‘a lot of people gotta die before we win this war’. It’s a bleak and unforgiving picture of warfare. Fortunately it avoids the cliche that all enemy soldiers are evil/all allied soldiers are good men – a cliche that occurs far too often in war films and TV shows.
Standout scenes include four American ‘Sherman’ tanks including Fury being ambushed by a single superior German tiger tank (which proceeds to ruthless cut through the inferior tanks leaving Fury alone left to take it out) and the crew of Fury’s desperate final stand at a crossroads against a 300 strong SS column – which racks up quite a body count (of both German soldiers and main cast members) and ends the film on a suitably bleak note. But any other ending would have been at odds with the tone and nature of the film, so good on you scriptwriters.
Overall a powerful film which, despite one or two scenes that don’t work as well as intended and a few predictable plot moments, is one of the best war films i can remember seeing. But it isn’t for the light-hearted.
Rating: 4 out of 5.