***No real spoilers. But it is about WW2, so you know that the Germans lost***
This is a modern war film that is a lot like many not-so-modern war films. If you are a fan of war films, you will like it. If you enjoyed ‘Saving Private Ryan’, you will like it. If neither, then don’t bother to read any further, because you won’t like it.
I should really have watched this on the big screen, but I was too lazy to drag myself into Norwich. Instead I waited a while, and bought a used copy from Amazon for less than 40P! As much of the film is set inside the cramped confines of a Sherman Tank, it works just as well on DVD, watching on a decent-sized flat screen TV.
Set a few weeks before the end of the war in 1945, American forces are facing bitter fighting deep inside Germany itself. They are opposed by the powerful Tiger Tanks of the enemy, and fanatical Waffen SS soldiers who refuse to surrender. There is the usual scene-setting, as the various members of the tank crew are introduced to the audience. Every war film cliche is presented rapidly. Sullen prisoners staring from behind wire cages, long lines of defeated soldiers and displaced civilians lining the roads; the mud, debris, and shattered buildings of a war-torn land.
Cue some more war film stand-bys as we get to know the crew. There is the hardened and respected tank commander, ‘Wardaddy’ (Brad Pitt), the religious quiet man, ‘Bible’ (Shia LeBeouf) the lumbering good old boy from the south, ‘Coon Ass’ (John Bernthal) and last but not least, the token non-white, in this case a Mexican, ‘Gordo’. (Michael Pena). They all have nicknames, even the tank, which is the ‘Fury’ of the title. Into this mix arrives the out of place new boy, Norman. (Logan Lerman) He should be a typist, but as often happens, the army has mistakenly sent him into action as a tank man instead. (Sound familiar?) Then there is the green and nervy Lieutenant Parker (Xavier Samuel), and the tough Captain Waggoner. (Jason Isaacs)
Once we have established everyone’s role in the proceedings, we finally get to see some action. A good war film hinges on having good action sequences, and this is where ‘Fury’ scores. Realistic vehicles, tanks, and weapons, exciting action, and edge of the seat battles. Once the film gets into this, it never fails to convince, and does not rely heavily on CGI to show us what went on either. Without detailing every event, it is enough to say that you could feel the impact when a tank was hit, and ducked your head as enemy fire came dangerously close. There is also some diversion from the norm when it comes to dealing with the enemy too. Prisoners are shot out of hand, and enemy soldiers are ruthlessly mown down during the fighting.
New guy Norman does not want to fight, but ‘Wardaddy’ makes it his mission to toughen the boy up, and make a soldier out of him. He eventually nicknames Norman ‘Machine’, showing that he is finally accepted into the close-knit crew. I could go on about some scenes involving German women, child soldiers, or moments of kindness shown by these tough guys. But I won’t, because it is all about the action. The claustrophobic atmosphere inside the moving tank, the fact that they are outgunned by the superior German tanks, and the way that the crew stick together and look after each other.
As a war film, it works, and works very well indeed. Here’s a trailer.
If you would like to see more war films about tanks, then I recommend the Russian film, ‘White Tiger'(2012), and the Israeli film, ‘Lebanon’. (2009) (Stop yawning over there!)