- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 12 November 2014
On arguably the worst first day of work anyone has ever had, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is a young American clerk thrust into the midst of warfare on the German front in April 1945. Trained to type 60 words per minute, Ellison is rotated in as the fifth crew member of a Sherman tank christened "Fury," and must now ruthlessly kill Nazi soldiers from within this metal monster.
The other crew members are older men who have been manning "Fury" together for three years. Bonded together but psychologically damaged from the tides of war, they dismiss Norman as nothing more than another dead man. Spurned by his fellow tank mates, Norman is told to clean his new seat, which is covered in the blood and the blown-off face of the soldier who sat there before him.
Repulsed, Norman vomits and begs the headman of his tank, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), to be rotated elsewhere. Aggravated at his new soldier's weakness in the face of gritty war, Wardaddy forces Norman to shoot a captured German soldier through the back. The audience's sympathies are with Norman, for he is definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his new job as a Nazi killer does not match up with his morals. Consistent with a pro-war film, the "Fury" tank-mates Wardaddy, Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Gordo (Michael Peña), Grady (Joe Bernthal), and eventually Norman all keep to their mantra that being in the war is "the best job [they] ever had."
Tasked by their commander to move out with a group of tanks and capture a run-down city, Norman reluctantly enters the tank and the group heads out. Partly hidden by the foliage of the forest they are travelling along, Norman spots a young German boy, but chooses to dismiss him as nonthreatening. This turns out to be a mistake, when suddenly one of their own men in the tank ahead of them is doused with fire from a flare and takes his life to end the suffering. Wardaddy uses this horrifying instance as another opportunity to get it through Norman's mind that to leave a Nazi alive means certain death for the American troops.
Unlike other films that focus entirely on soldiers during war, Fury exposes how American soldiers interacted with German civilians. Following their taking of a German town and the loss of both American and German soldiers, the American troops settle in and loot the town. The buildings are in shambles and people are scared, but it doesn't stop the American men from taking what little they have. Women trade their bodies willingly in exchange for small trinkets or food.
Norman eventually follows Wardaddy upstairs to the apartment of two terrified German women. Even though they perhaps support the Nazi regime, you truly cannot help but feel afraid for them. The younger of the two women is visibly terrified, but to everyone's surprise, Wardaddy produces a box of eggs from his pack and hands them to her. Though the soldiers share a poignant interaction with these women, Bible, Grady and Gordo suddenly burst through the doors, effectively interrupting the moment and spurring the soldiers to return to their mission.
However pro-war the film may be, audiences are not shielded from the horrendous reality that defines tank warfare. The four Sherman tanks engage in a battle with Nazi Tiger tanks. The American soldiers note the superior German machinery. As hard as they fight to kill the deadly Tiger tank operators, it's plain that not everyone is going to make it out alive. The battle doesn't last too long. The Americans win, but pay a heavy price; the 15 men in the other four tanks have been brutally killed by the Nazi Tiger tank operators. The remaining five have no choice but to move on.
At this point, Norman has shown courage in the face of war, even enjoying killing Nazis. The audience finally sees a camaraderie form between the remaining men, and they include Norman by giving him the nickname "Machine." Any happy moments are wiped clean when the tank breaks down in the middle of a road. Grady is tasked with repairing "Fury" while Norman is sent up the road as a look out.
Heavy footsteps and singing means deadly SS Nazi soldiers on their way. Irrevocably bonded together from their past, the remaining tank mates decide to stay with "Fury" and fight the SS troops. Watching these men make the hardest decision of their lives while facing probable death and knowing that this is not just a movie, but a piece of history, is certainly emotional for any audience. From within "Fury," Wardaddy, Norman, Grady, Gordo and Bible brace themselves for the ultimate sacrifice.
Fury is more than just another film about World War II—it is a piece of reality from the past. Countless men sacrificed themselves for their countries, and through Fury we can see their troubles, their realities, and their fears, and know that sometimes people in the face of war are still capable of humanity.
IMAGE TAKEN from shockya.com