October 29th, 2014
Last night I went to see the movie Fury with a couple of my friends (Mike and Linda). Fury is the latest film starring Brad Pitt, set in the last days of World War 2. It is the story of a tank crew of a M4E8 Sherman tank, and their exploits in the liberation of Germany from the Nazis. It is a fairly graphic violent movie, and laced with large amounts of profanity. This should not be surprising as it is a war film.
Fury was written, directed and produced by David Ayer. I am not familiar with his previous work, although I remember seeing the trailer for U-571 (which failed to peak my interest), and it has been suggested he learned a lesson from that film about tweaking history too much.
Brad Pitt is the main lead, playing the tank commander “Wardaddy” Collier. The rest of his crew are played by Shia LeBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) as “Bible” Swan; Logan Lerman as Norman Ellison, the crew’s replacement bow gunner, a kid fresh from the States; Michael Peña as “Gordo” Garcia; and Jon Bernthal as “Coon-Ass” Travis. Most of the cast I am not familiar with, however, if this an example of their work, they are quite good at what they do.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot as I hate spoilers as much as the next person. The story opens with Collier and crew (minus Norman) on a battlefield, post battle. They are trying to get their tank running again so they can return to base. Once rolling, and back at base, the dead bow gunner is removed, and they begin the process of rearming for their next engagement. Enter Norman Ellison, a kid, eight weeks in the Army, trained as a clerk typist (he says he can type 60 words a minute), has never been inside of a tank, let alone seen battle.
Their platoon of tanks (5 tanks comprises a tank platoon) is dispatched to a town that the U.S. is presently engaged in retaking. Allof them Sherman tanks, but only the Tank Fury is an Easy 8 model sporting the high velocity 76mm gun, the others are all older Shermans sporting the medium velocity 75mm gun (probably M4A2s or M4A4s).
The town is littered with the bodies of young German men (more likely teenagers) who were hung by the SS for their refusal to take up arms and fight. In this town Collier and Ellison meet two German women, and befriend them. Things were fairly relaxed and friendly until the rest of the tank crew bursts in and causes a great deal of tension. Ellison shows he is quite smitten with one of the women, Emma.
The crew of the Fury, along with the rest of their tank platoon are dispatched to stop an advancing column of German infantry, which we later find out is a battalion of SS looking for a fight. En route to engage the enemy, they encounter a Tiger tank. And we’ll leave the spoilers there.
The appearance of the Tiger tank is significant film-wise as the Tiger used is Tiger 131, the only operational Tiger 1 tank in the world, and was on loan to the film production team, courtesy of The Tank Museum in Bovington, England. This is also significant in that it is the first time in modern film that a real Tiger tank was used (according to notes elsewhere, the last time a real Tiger tank was used in a film was in 1946). The Tank Museum also furnished an M4E8 to serve as the main tank (and title character), Fury. A total of 10 Sherman tanks were used in the film. Kudos to The Tank Museum for their participation in the making of Fury. The added bit of realism by using working tanks, and not prop tanks like other films says a lot about the quality of this film production.
Battles are bloody and violent, graphically so. People who know me now I am not a fan of overly graphic violence. However, for a war film to be truly accurate, it is going to be pretty bloody. They say War is Hell, and if you want an honest, and real depiction of war, it is going to be bloody.
Other themes explored in the film, along with the horrors of war, are camaraderie, friendship, duty, honor, courage, and self-sacrifice. We see this well depicted as Collier takes young Ellison under his arm, so to speak, and helps him learn to survive the horrors they are going to face together, and how each of them is dependent on their comrades to do their job (killing the enemy), and do it well and without hesitation. The crew eventually counts Ellison as one of their own when Travis gives Ellison the nickname “Machine”. The crew of the Fury on several occasions, including in the climactic battle, say “best job I ever had”, in reference to their duties as a tank crew.
Fury is certainly the best war film I have seen since Saving Private Ryan, and I think in many ways it is a superior film. Excellent production values, great story, wonderful performances. This is a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen as movies are meant to be seen.
Tags: Brad Pitt, David Ayer, Fury, The Tank Museum, WW2