The bloody WWII action film “Fury” takes its name from the nickname of a Sherman tank, its cannon sporting – and its mission defined by – that angry word. But it is inside the dented vehicle, among the members of his close-knit team, that the real action of the film takes place.
Set in 1945, during the Allies’ final push into Germany – an endgame marked by desperation and moral compromise on both sides – “Fury” is a story whose message can be summed up as follows: “Ideals are peaceful ; history is violent. But the best, most impactful story centers on the man delivering that nihilistic assessment, the battle-scarred tank commander known as Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), and his relationship to his four-man crew. As the nickname suggests, Pitt’s character is kind of a damaged father figure, tough and tender at the same time.
As rendered by filmmaker David Ayer (whose background includes both the gritty crime drama “End of Watch” and the horrific Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Sabotage”), the fight narrative in “Fury” makes it the most familiar of all. two competing scenarios. While filmed with visceral – and often horribly macabre – beauty, as well as heart-pounding drama, the film is hardly interesting as a war film, especially when compared to classics such as ” Paths of Glory ”. Still, it’s engaging and watchable, even as it walks towards a seemingly suicidal climax.
Yet the complex dynamic between Wardaddy and his men is far more fascinating. As the paterfamilias of the soldiers, who are committed to keeping his “sons” alive, but also teaching them something about life and death, Pitt is fascinating as the film’s anti-hero. Wardaddy’s successes and failures as a parent and leader are the most exciting and new things about “Fury”.
Its success is evident in the fact that the crew survived three years of fighting with a single casualty, in a war notable for its heavy losses from American tanks. After rolling from Africa to France via Germany, the altered crew consists of Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf); Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña) and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal). At the start of the film, an untested clerk-typist named Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) has just joined them, replacing a dead shooter.
His first mission? Wiping the blood and guts of its predecessor from inside the tank. As with all of his films, Ayer is not afraid of graphic imagery.
Unlike the rest of the crew, who are known almost exclusively by their “war names,” Norman has yet to take on a nickname, although he will at the end of the film.
He will also assume more than that. A lesson: Wardaddy is just a man and in some ways a terrible role model. A key interlude in the middle of the story, taking place in the home of two German women (Anamarina Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg) whose apartment was requisitioned for a meal, is particularly revealing.
In it, Wardaddy allows his men to misbehave, sometimes in a grotesque manner – the implication being that he turns a blind eye to actions approaching the criminal out of opportunism. In another scene, Wardaddy forces a reluctant Norman to execute a captured SS officer. Uncomfortable Dynamics is an obscene parody of a father at home, teaching his son to hunt.
With the general exception of the Nazi fighters – only one of whom showed compassion – few characters in “Fury” are described as either all good or all bad. It’s easy to see the film as a story of how war turns men into monsters. But it’s much more complicated than that.
The movie suggests that it’s not war that does this, but people like Wardaddy. He is a man who knows the price of keeping his men alive to fight or die some other day, and is willing to pay it.
A. In theaters in the region. Contains intense violence, macabre imagery and pervasive obscenity.