Twitter Plot Summary: WW2 is nearing its end, yet the fighting is at its most intense. Shia LeBeouf isn’t annoying either.
You could probably describe Fury as a film about “the little tank that could”. If that description also included lots of mud, violence and squelching sounds. And death. Lots and lots of death. It is April 1945, and the war is reaching its end. The fighting has become more extreme following Hitler’s decree of Total War, which involved the mobilisation of men, women and children to defend the Reich despite the fact the war was clearly a lost cause. We’re given the opportunity to follow the crew of the titular Fury, a Sherman tank commanded by Brad Pitt as Don “Wardaddy” Collier and populated by an odd bunch of men emotionally deadened by the destruction of war – Bible, played with a surprising lack of irritation by Shia LaBeouf, the obligatory Hispanic Gordo, played by Michael Pena, and the also obligatory man from the South, Jon Bernthal’s Grady Travis. They are joined by typist Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a replacement for the crew’s former gunner whose face and other body parts that now adorn the inside the of the tank.
Despite the violence there’s little in terms of bloodshed, which is possibly why Fury only earned a 15 rating rather than the more graphic 18. People burn to death, are mashed by tank shells and bullets, but the levels of gore are otherwise quite limited. Thematically Fury is all about the horror of war, the hell on Earth nature of the conflict and how it affects people involved in it. This is not a film where comedic moments are used to lighten the tension. It’s an entirely bleak and appropriate perspective on war and any such attempt to break the dark mood would have been at odds with its nihilistic viewpoint.
There are a few niggles that prevent Fury from being the quintessential war film, instead placing it firmly in the “simply entertaining” bracket. An ill-judged dinner sequence in a German home adds little to the plot and slows the action down to an almost unnecessary pace. There are also issues with the character development, as Norman’s transition from green recruit to near-hardened soldier feels rushed and underdeveloped. Pitt’s tank commander has some decent development and it’s a solid performance from him as always, showing a man on the verge of physically breaking down, however the rest of the crew are only defined by their Southern drawl, their Hispanic origin, their adherence to Bible scripture, and nothing else, and are as one note as it is possible to be.
Of note is the appearance of the only working Tiger tank in a showdown with four Shermans. The Tiger, maintained by the Tank Museum at Bovingdon, is a stunning piece of machinery and it’s great that the production company chose to show it in action for this film. It’s a shame that not all of its elements could combine to make it a quintessential war film, but what Fury does get right – the mud, the violence, the fanatical defence of Germany – it does well.