Ever since Steven Spielberg brilliantly brought the D-day landings to life in Saving Private Ryan’s brutal opening sequence, no other film has come close to depicting the reality of war in such a powerful way. Fury, a WWII epic from (believe it or not) the director of The Fast and The Furious, doesn’t quite reach the heights of Private Ryan, but does come pretty damn close.
Set in 1945 during the dying days of the war, it tells the story of a five-man crew who continue to battle through Germany in a Sherman tank named Fury. Battle-hardened and tired, the platoon lead by Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier is provided with a newly enlisted typist named Norman as a replacement for a recently deceased veteran. As the group do their best to get their new recruit battle-ready, they are given a mission to go behind enemy lines and protect a vital crossroads from the advancing Nazis.
With Fury, writer/director David Ayer uses a simple narrative as a platform for dealing with bigger themes of religion, redemption and morality within war. Whilst the film is bookended with action sequences that are exhilarating and sure to make your heart race, it’s the exploration into our characters psyches that proves more exciting to watch. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that the film’s most memorable and tense scene doesn’t take place on the battlefield, but around a dining room table as Wardaddy’s attempt at re-living domesticated life are ruined by his drunk comrades. It’s a pivotal scene that’s drawn out for what seems at least twenty minutes, as the dynamic of the group that is expertly established at the beginning of the film begins to change.
Ayer shoots the film as if it were a sci-fi and portrays war as an alien concept. Bullets and missiles fly by in laser-like flashes of blues and reds, armies of planes in the distance look like spaceships and soldiers crawl through the mud like some kind of monstrous creatures; all of which is observed with the wide-eyed innocence of Norman. It’s through these eyes that we see events unfold and it’s his character that acts as a catalyst for the platoon’s self-reflections. What’s particularly fascinating is the development of a relationship between Norman and Wardaddy, a contradictory one that has Wardaddy trying to break down Norman’s moral refusal to kill, but at the same time implies an admiration for the young man’s innocence.
Much of the film’s success comes from the excellent casting across the board. Brad Pitt is understandably believable as the emphatic leader of the group, whilst Logan Lerman puts in a heartfelt performance as young Norman. Even Shia LeBeouf (sans paper bag) impresses as the religious Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan, and is giving some of the best lines of the film.
A surprisingly raw and gripping portrayal of the horrors of war, Fury is a respectful and moving film that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com