Hell hath no ‘Fury’ like the Germans scorned!
Fury is a quintessential war movie that yet again reminds us of what horrors men are capable of when they wage war. It portrays and reveals the story of a lonely tank squad from the US army’s 66th armoured regiment, the second armoured division during the finishing days of the Second World War, and how they struggle to survive and endure in the face of un-seemingly terrible odds, behind enemy lines, in Nazi Germany.
Starring in the lead role, as the central protagonist, is Brad Pitt who dons the character of a US sergeant Don ‘War Daddy’ Collier. He is a battle-hardened veteran who has experienced the ravages of war first hand, from the vast expanse of the North African desert to Europe. Other actors in the tank squad include Shia LaBeouf as a gunner named Boyd Swan, Michael Peña as the tank’s driver Trini Garcia, Jon Bernthal as the tank’s arsenal loader Grady Travis and lastly, Logan Lerman as a rookie novice named Norman Ellison. Apart from that, Fury has David Ayer at the helm as the director who has acclaimed movies like End of the Watch and Street Kings to his credit.
The M4A3E8 Sherman tank pertinently nicknamed ‘Fury’, which is also intentionally the title of the movie, is as much of a character as any other living, breathing actor in the motion picture. It doesn’t feel like a regular run-of-the-mill war machine or an inanimate object, but rather a fortress which protects the crew when need be and is their peripatetic home away from home, where they find solace, relief and comfort among the savage and callous circumstances that they find themselves in.
Fury is as much a war movie as it is a period drama that can hold its own; the overall aesthetics coupled with the look and feel exudes attention to detail and authenticity. The epic tank battles, in proportion and scale, are shot without using over the top CGI. The director chose to utilise the traditional film stock for shooting the movie instead of the digital REDs or the Panavision movie cameras for a more realistic, raw and grittier feel that complements the subject matter of the movie.
Perhaps the action highlight of the movie is when the crew members of Fury try to ward off the much dreaded Panzer VI (Tiger-I) tank, which is several times larger in size than the Fury tank. This goose-bump causing, adrenaline filled encounter will leave many with a taste of what it was like to be inside these unforgiving metal contraptions called tanks and being aggressively pursued by relentless enemies like the Nazi Germans.
In terms of the acting prowess, the entire ensemble cast delivers a concrete performance but Brad Pitt goes one step beyond. The depth of his acting skills is fully realised in his portrayal as the devil-may-care, war-torn Sergeant Don ‘War Daddy’. At times, Pitt’s portrayal in this movie is oddly reminiscent of his previously performed role of Lt Aldo Raine in the movie Inglorious Basterds but never does it get to a point where it may seem that it is emulated in its entirety.
In summation, Fury is a visceral experience, it delivers upon the grand action sequences it promises but it is not devoid of a heart either. As oppose to just showing typical, macho, alpha males seamlessly laying the wrath and killing their enemies with cut-throat ease.
Moreover, speaking specifically of the World War II genre led movies, Fury has the grandeur of Saving Private Ryan, the emotional gravity and trauma of The Pianist and at times the humour of Inglorious Basterds. All in all, in the war period movie category, Fury can stand tall aside such classics as Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now.
However, Hollywood has done World War II period drama/action movies to death now and no matter which story arch, which setting (Europe, Japan, Asia) they try to recreate, it has been done countless times before. It inhibits a fresh experience, Hollywood needs to move on from the World War II and needs to explore different alternatives in their war story telling.
Furthermore, here is some food for thought; Hollywood only churns out movies that always demonstrate the American forces not as invaders but rather as liberators. They show these knights in shining armours, who help people from suffering at the hands of totalitarian and dictatorial regimes. Although, a part of it may be true, it is not always that black and white, there’s a lot of grey area in between but unfortunately, as a whole, Fury too exhibits that over the top ‘Americanised heroism’ propaganda-esque rhetoric. Except for this one instance in the film (Spoiler Alert!), where the last surviving crew of the Fury, Norman, is captured by a German Waffen SS troop. Rather than turning him in to his superiors, the German lets him go. This is perhaps, the only occasion, where it is exhibited that the enemy too has a heart.
To truly understand World War II in its entirety, holistically and also from the German perspective, one ought to watch movies that are neutral and not biased to either the American side or the German. German made movies like Das-Boot (1981) and the Tom Cruise starring movie Valkyrie (2008) will shed a light on the Second World War from the other side of the coin, an alternative perspective if you will, to truly grasp the nuances and complexity of the events that unfolded in the Second World War.
Whatever said and done, Fury is still worth a watch.
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