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Flix: Fury – A Harrowing Snapshot of War

If you go to see Fury expecting another run of the mill Hollywood war flick, you are in for a serious blood, guts and mud-encrusted slap to the face.

David Ayer’s latest film is a brutal and unforgiving foray into the dying days of the Second World War as Allied forces descend deep into the heart of Nazi Germany in their final push towards Berlin.

It’s April 1945 and the Nazi war machine has long lost its momentum.  A decrepit and pitiful shadow of its former self, its ranks are now comprised of what wretched resources remain – naïve and indoctrinated children, withered old men, women and the fanatical remnants of the Hitler’s most feared fighting force – the SS.

The war is all but won and Germany teeters precariously on the brink of utter annihilation, but for the men of the 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, battle-hardened veterans of the North African campaign of 1942, the road to Berlin has never seemed longer nor more drenched in the blood of friend and foe alike.

If you’ve never experienced the sheer futility, abject horror and despair of war, Fury will certainly give you a taste.

From the grim and claustrophobic perspective of the film’s eponymous Sherman tank and its cynical, war-weary crew, the story follows the bitter fighting through non-descript German countryside replete with hedgerows, abandoned farmhouses, fields, country roads and nameless town after town after town – each of which is defended with a desperate and maniacal fervour not previously encountered.

The tank’s cadre, a rancorous and cynical complement, are lead by Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt).  The crew itself is an unlikely bunch consisting of the aptly nicknamed Bible belt preacher and teetotaller Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), back country hick Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) and Hispanic driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña).

Ravaged by heavy tank losses, command is forced to re-deploy untrained and inexperienced “back-office” soldiers – administrative desk warriors and green boys who have never fired a shot in anger.

In the case of Fury’s crew, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a fresh-faced boy who by his own admission has never seen the inside of a tank, joins their tight-knight party following the demise of their assistant driver and bow gunner.

Cold and apprehensive, the crew do not initially take kindly to Norman. His reluctance to shed Nazi blood results directly in the destruction of one of their own tanks at the hands of Panzerfaust-wielding Hitlerjugend.   With each passing battle, however, Norman slowly proves his worth to his peers.

Lerman’s transition as Norman, from boyish recruit to ardent slayer of Nazi foe earning himself the nickname “Machine”, is masterful and a focal point of the film.  Similarly, Pitt’s dual portrayal as a fearless commander in front of his men but a mental wreck in brief moments of solitude is poignant and highlights the tolls of war on even the most hardened psyche.

Capturing the fluid and chaotic nature of frontline combat, Fury is a shambolic film with no real plot to speak of which in itself is not a bad thing at all.

Instead of following a linear storyline, Ayer thrusts the viewer into the chaos of war resulting in a film that, at the same time, is entirely predictable yet unendingly nail-biting.

Norman (Logan Lerman) and Boyd "Bible" Swan in Columbia Pictures' FURY.
Source: Sinedkoks

Fury is not your usual war film, or even your usual Hollywood film for that matter.  The usually liberal doses (or overdoses in the case of some similar films) of romanticism, patriotism and heroism expected in films of this calibre are nowhere to be found bar a few fleeting moments.

You know how it will end from the beginning.  You know there will be no glory, no triumph, no happy ending.  But you will not be able to pry your eyes away from the screen.

The black-and-white reality of war has been brought home by earlier films like Saving Private Ryan which eschew the usually romantic notions of war and camaraderie and hope arising out of the ashes of despair.

Fury takes it a level further.  Plunging to the depths of human depravity, Fury explores what inhumanities humans in war are willing and capable of inflicting upon each other.  It does so relentlessly, without abatement and without apology.

So much so, I went home and hugged my dogs tightly for several hours afterwards – and I’m not usually one to be affected by films like this.

It’s a morose film that, unless you’re Charles Manson, will give you little pleasure and at the end of the day, it’s a film that reverberates as profoundly anti-war.

It does have its moments, however.  I guess they just can’t resist – it is Hollywood after all.

Pornographic use of fluorescent green tracer bullets, akin to a pitched Star Wars battle, ad nauseam coupled with Pitt channelling Lt Aldo Raine in Inglorious Basterds taking on a nigh endless horde of SS detract ever so slightly from the film’s otherwise overall historical and emotional authenticity.

On the whole, it’s not enough to kill the otherwise kosher war vibe Ayer establishes so well.

If you’ve never experienced the sheer futility, abject horror and despair of war, Fury will certainly give you a taste.

Fury is perhaps one of those films you’ll wish you never watched because it is a profoundly affecting film.  It’s grim, it’s gritty and emotionally raw.

It’s incredibly confronting.

By the time the credits start to roll, your gob will be agape and you may need the assistance of friends to collect your jaw from the cinema floor.

One thing is for sure, however – you won’t forget Fury any time soon.

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