War Movies are rare, good war movies are much more so. Fortunately ‘Fury’ falls in the latter. Now here’s a movie that is intense, gripping and apart from minor pacing issues, manages to hold the viewer’s nails dug in the arm cushion for the most part of its 137 minutes run time.
When we talk war films, the most common imagery one visualizes are scenes from Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Patton, Platoon, Inglorious Basterds or War Horse. Now add Fury to that list. Each of the classic films mentioned here have a signature style of their own. Fury’s signature style is mud, dirt and corpse. Granted, this may be the most visceral depiction of war in all its ugliness and cruelty.
What sets this film apart is the approach that it takes in telling a story about the bonds formed between soldiers of war, the way they view the job that they have been forced to do. It’s not all noble and heroic as is how Hollywood usually projects wars on celluloid. War is a dirty business. No one wants to be there, but it is unavoidable. Soldiers fight the war bravely, but with a grudge for the task at hand. It is unpleasant and immoral, but can’t be avoided. This aspect is superbly depicted on screen aided by amazing performances, particularly by Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf.
Like Patton, Fury is a movie that deals with Battle Tank warfare. In Patton, the approach was that of an aerial view of the battle that lets us see the strategy that is employed in battle. In Fury, on the other hand, the perspective is from inside the Battle Tank christened ‘Fury’ and the emotions that the 5 soldiers confined in this killing machine undergo. Fury’ commander in charge is Don ‘WarDaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt in a role that is similar to the one he portrayed in Inglorious Basterds). The supporting players are Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia Labeouf in a Godfearing mellow role), Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Pena as the comic relief illegal immigrant from Mexico), Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal in the role of a Douchebag, DeNiro looking, profanity spewing bully) and Norman ‘Machine’ Ellison (Logan Lerman as the only one with a pure heart and a sense of morality). This rag-tad band of miscreants are plunged into World War II Germany in the race to Berlin in the Battle Tank ‘Fury’.
The film has, as expected expertly executes the battle sequences with the climax one lasting for almost 20 minutes ending in an adrenaline pumping finale. But what gives the film more depth and manages to raise it above the generic war/action genre is the character interaction and the reality of the situation. For instance, in a scene, early in the film, Brad Pitt’s character forces Typewriting-specialist-turned-Reluctant-Soldier, Norman Ellison to do something that is not only immoral but downright cruel. As a matter of fact every soldier in the film behaves like evil scumbags reveling in killing and torturing. One might even say, I didn’t like the main characters in the film. But that’s the point the film is trying to make. Everyone’s action is predicated by one emotion alone – Fury. In a state of anger, human behaviour can change in the matter of seconds. Kill or get killed is the underlining truth of war.
Brad Pitt is solid as ever and sinks his teeth into the role of the profanity spewing WarDaddy role with relish. The only other character with a meaty role is Norman Ellison, the only one who has no business being inside Fury and the only one who is the voice of reason. His is the only character that we are meant to relate to and he does a fantastic job portraying it. The others fill in their respective shoes capably and together raise the level of the film to new heights. The Director, David Ayer, deserves brownie points for accurate portrayal of the realities of war and not over dramatizing the sequences of action or the interludes.
As Brad Pitt says in the film “Ideals are peaceful, History is violent”.