Set in Germany, in April 1945, Fury is a composite portrayal of tank crews and the final days of the war in Europe. The movie’s writer, director and producer, David Ayer (End of Watch, The Fast and the Furious, Training Day, U-571), shows us exactly how unglamorous World War II was for some of it’s unsung heroes. Encased within the protection of an armoured tank may have it’s advantages in battle, but when faced with the ravages of war on a grand scale, life within such confined living quarters can be testing to the most battle-hardened of men.
Brad Pitt (World War Z, Moneyball, Inglorious Basterds), stars as Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant in charge of a Sherman tank named Fury, and it’s five-man crew: Boyd “Bible” Swan, gunner (Shia LaBeouf – Lawless, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps); Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis, loader (Jon Bernthal – The Walking Dead, Snitch, Grudge Match); Trini “Gordo” Garcia, driver (Michael Peña – Cesar Chavez, American Hustle, Gangster Squad); and Norman “Machine” Ellison (Logan Lerman – Noah, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Gamer), as the rookie replacement assistant driver/bow gunner.
Recently recruited into the army as a typist, Norman had never even seen the inside of a tank, let alone be a member of a Sherman tank crew. His lack of experience with death and gore is illustrated, when rushing to vomit while cleaning the pieces of his departed predecessor from his area inside the tank. Thrown into this most despicable of situations, Norman fights his instinct in an attempt to adhere to the needs of his new profession, and to do his best to not fail his crew.
Following the exploits of Fury, we are shown the horrors of war through the eyes of Wardaddy and his men, while riding shotgun on a journey to kill as many Nazis as possible. While it seems unrealistic at times, the blood, death, destruction, dismemberment, mud and shear havoc, constitutes circumstances that I am glad I was not a part of.
Ayer was influenced by depictions of the service of veterans in his family, and by such books as ‘Death Traps’ by Belton Y. Cooper. Before filming began, in an attempt to get the cast into character, the self confessed “ruthless director”, required the actors to endure a four-month preparation process which included a week long torturous Navy SEALs boot camp. He also insisted that the cast fight each other in sparring sessions, which resulted in several black eyes and bloody noses. I’m sure this activity would have brought back fond memories of filming Fight Club in 1999 for Pitt, where he chipped a front tooth. The cast were also encouraged to insult each other as much as possible, and were forced to live in the tank together for an extended period of time in order to experience exactly what an actual tank crew would have.
Brad Pitt is fantastic as usual. Lately, Pitt has assumed acting roles where he portrays a leader, or father figure, and are roles to which he is well suited. This trend will serve to increase his maturity as an actor, producer and hopefully soon, director. It was refreshing to see Shia LeBeouf play a character who isn’t constantly exaggerating his every movement and expression. His portrayal of the Fury’s gunner, is probably his best.
If you like Fury, you might also like: Inglorious Basterds (2009), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Platoon (1986), Apocalypse Now (1979).
The Movie Lad rates this: Three and a half out of a possible five fully armed Sherman tanks.