We’re kind of movie fanatics here at the MoGT, and while we like many genres of cinemas, most of us are men… And that being what it is, we enjoy a good war movie more than a lot of other kinds. Fury therefore has been on our radar for almost a year now, and when I went to see it last night – it lived up to my expectations. This is a movie you should probably make time to see. Sure, there’s a lot of blood and killing; sure, there are depictions of soldiers doing things you’d rather they didn’t do; and sure, they drop almost as many f-bombs as our planes dropped real ones – but this was about war… a World War. And like Brad Pitt’s character, Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, reminds us…
“… History is violent.”
A point that the film wastes no time getting right into. After the preface letting us know these are the waning days of the war, and that Germany is going all out in a suicidal attempt at victory on their own soil – we find Wardaddy knocking off a German officer and setting his horse free in the middle of a field filled with smoldering craters and busted up tanks. They’ve lost their gunner and they’re the only survivors from this fight, so they make their way to the nearest camp. There they’re given a replacement cleric…. er, gunner. Crap – things are about to get messy; this guy looks like he just graduated middle school. Can he even lift a shell?
Now the crew consists of Wardaddy, gunner Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (Shia LeBeouf), loader Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis (Jon Bernthal), driver Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia (Michael Peña), and new guy/gunner/barf-machine Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). I think this movie more than a lot of other World War 2 pictures captures a few aspects of that war: the lack of depth and turnaround at positions in the field/on the front – they got a cleric to be a gunner on the front lines, and the constant on-the-go mentality/nature of that conflict – they went from Africa to other locations in Europe to Germany… with no stops between: once they were deployed, they kept going until the job got done. You see it here when they come back from their previous engagement with a dead gunner: they hand over their comrade’s body, are given a green replacement, immediately restock and replenish, and then are sent on their merry way out to rescue a pinned down unit, then on to take a village, and then ultimately on to hold a crossroad.
From the get-go you know that the men in this tank are committed to the cause of defeating the Germans, but even moreso – the standing crew is committed to standing behind Wardaddy; a commitment Ellison soon comes to embrace as well. You also know that because of that committment – the likelihood of this crew surviving are slim. But these guys show an unwavering, bull-headed spirit:
“Best job I ever had.”
While the crew on the tank known as Fury seem to be your typical war movie types – this cast does an excellent job. Bernthal’s portrayal as a beligerent, violent Coon-Ass is spot-on, all while his banter with his comrades and the moments of emotion we see humanize him; Peña’s character is probably the least developed, but he isn’t a weak-link by any means; Pitt fills in as Wardaddy perfectly – he seems to be pretty comfortable killing Nazi’s, in fact he’s downright enthusiastic about it – especially if they’re SS; then there’s Lerman… Lerman is excellent as the fresh-off-the-boat enlisted man who’s never had to face the harsh realities of war, and who doesn’t want to. At one point he practically begs Wardaddy to kill him instead of forcing him to kill a German, and you can honestly feel his struggle throughout the film to come to grips with what happens during wartime; and finally we get to LeBeouf. What can I say here… If you’ve read our Worst Actor’s List, you’ll know he’s on it, but this movie makes me seriously reconsider that. He’s excellent as Bible, a soft-spoken gunner who’s just as likely to ask you if you’re saved as he is to hit whatever he’s aiming that big gun at, and I hope he reconsiders his “retirement” and continues to work on films like this – if only to reclaim some self-respect from his repeated run-ins with Irish whiskey.
“Wait till you see it… what a man can do to another man…”
This is one of the best movies of this year. Not only does it have everything you want from a war movie: great acting, good writing, excellent cinemetography, things getting blown up, etc. It makes you think as well. Watching this movie is a reminder of our past – the darker parts of human nature that bring about the horrors of war and the brutality that continued exposure to it can bring about in even the gentlest of men. It reminds us that there is evil in the world, and that fighting that evil isn’t always pretty – in fact, often it is quite ugly. And it reminds us that even amidst evil – sometimes good can be found: Ellison does survive after all.
Bottom line, from the Ministers to you: Go see Fury. It’s a movie, so you know even though it just started… it will end soon.
Fury is rated R and runs 134 minutes
~ J.T. Riles ~
Categories: Turn off your Phones!