Following in the footsteps of “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Band of Brothers”, this 2014 release is another “hyper-realistic” WW2 movie. It features an American Sherman Tank crew during the final stages of the Battle of Germany. The Allies might well have been winning the war but their armoured forces had to contend with the almost impervious Tiger Tank. Imagine the effect on the morale of the Sherman’s crew when they could be obliterated at 2000 metres whereas they had to approach the Tiger at 500 metres to ensure that they could penetrate the Tiger’s armour.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Main picture: DVD
Like the two aforementioned movies, Fury follows in their wake by exposing the unbridled raw horrors of war commingled with visceral battle scenes.
Brad Pitt portrays “War Daddy,” the commander of a Sherman nicknamed Fury. No old bromide can extinguish the fact that War Daddy is not one’s archetypal WW2 hero of 1960s movies genre. Instead he is a figure who is both monstrous and yet at another time virtuous.
Perhaps in spite of War Daddy’s imperfections, for once we are glimpsing the real measure of the allied fighting man; not quite as virtuous as the movies project.
I recall an interview with an American marine in a documentary [not the movie] entitled Hell in the Pacific, in which he makes the prescient comment “atrocities beget atrocities.” This veteran was acknowledging the fact that the American Marines refused to take Japanese prisoners after they had been exposed to Japanese atrocities.
In all likelihood, War Daddy’s disdain for German life, especially those of the Waffen SS, can be attributed to the fact that many of his comrades had been killed in the advance from Normandy, through France and Belgium to Germany. Furthermore the fact that their tanks were out-gunned and out-armoured by their opponents’ tanks, placed an unbearable burden on their psyche.
In a large measure, War Daddy’s crew of 5 all viewed him as a “lucky charm” in that they had survived intact since June 1944. The opening scene with smashed tanks and corpses strewn all around, sets the tone for the movie. The crew of “Fury” are then depicted attempting to get their tank operational after some mechanical problem. They are all – including War Daddy – portrayed as feral humans. None of the usual human attributes of compassion, kindness or empathy is sketched. Instead it is their baser degraded pugilistic instincts. On my first watching this DVD over a year ago, I was quite appalled by their callous disdainful treatment of one another.
Partly I suspect the reason for their indifference was due to their recent experience of death and destruction with War Daddy being the worst affected.
As one of their tank’s crew had been killed in the foray, a replacement had to be found. Norman, a typist with eight weeks army experience is allocated to replace their dead comrade. Unlike the brash, callous, unconsciously obnoxious fellow crewmen, Norman is a soft spoken gentle person.
It is when he fails to kill a German Hitlerjugen soldier with a Panzerfaust that War Daddy takes extreme umbrage. By getting Norman in a chokehold, he forces him to shoot an SS soldier in cold blood.
Fury shines a fierce light on the transformation of Norman from a mild mannered callow youth into German killing machine.
Using the only operating Tiger tank in the world from the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, the squadron of four Sherman tanks gets embroiled in a skirmish with this lone Tiger. Of all the action scenes in this movie, this one lacks total realism.
Likewise, the final scene in the movie where their disabled Sherman takes on an SS Regiment is not plausible. Being incapacitated, the SS could readily have surrounded the tank and destroyed it with their Panzerfausts which were in abundance. It is highly improbable that one stationary tank would have been able to wipe out most of a regiment. Why spoil the realism by portraying one scene in a highly improbable manner?
Critics of my review might opine that I am too critical but realism not only demands accuracy as regards weaponry and clothing but also in battle scenes.
Notwithstanding that critical comment, the depiction of war scenes is a vast improvement over battle scenes of a generation ago. A few years ago, I happened to rewatch the movie Patton. The scene where the German armour advances towards Kasserine Pass in Tunisia and is destroyed by the American forces is totally unrealistic. Not only is the weaponry post WW2 but the fact that the German tanks advanced in a wave formation was highly improbable. Today a rating of 0% would be awarded for this effort.
Whilst this film is undoubtedly gory, it accurately captures the horror of war & the primal fear of those involved. Whilst this may its strength, for me the movie did not exactly hit the mark. In hindsight was it perhaps the gratuitous unacceptable behaviour of the crew such as spitting huge globs of saliva at one another and other such uncouth behaviour.
One demands realism but such obscene scenes add nothing to a film.
Instead, it detracts from it.