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Whom Shall I Send? And Whom Will Go For Us?

 

The tales of World War II will always evoke some of the deepest reactions and emotions that a human is capable of possessing. The tumultuous battlefields are painted red with the losses of loved ones and the pain and suffering of thousands. From time to time, a film can encapsulate these sentiments while telling a story that resonates within on a plethora of levels. Yet again, we are taken by storm by a seasoned war leader in Brad Pitt. While being different and similar simultaneously from the Inglorious Bastards’ Aldo Raine, we are guided through the horrors of war while conjuring moments of compassion and brotherhood, which serve to pull us deep into the frills of the film. David Ayer adds an impressive installment to his resume with this picture, proving that he is a capable of work that possesses depth with an effective story telling ability. Containing only a few dull or contrite moments and limited holes that never threaten to sink the ship, Fury positions itself as a key film of this season.

 

Our introduction is to the tune of Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier, played by Brad Pitt, leaping from his tank, which is so eloquently named Fury, onto a Nazi scout. He immediately buries a blade into the Nazi’s eye socket. There is a strange peace among the brutality of the scene, which sets up a poetic contrast to the theme of the story. Pitt and his crew have been together through the darkest of times. It is evident that they have seen the type of horrors that could break a man. Ayer presents our heroes in a way that is mostly unseen as they bicker and scream, while attempting to repair their tank to get back to base, all while sitting next to the corpse of their fallen gunman. The quarrel amongst these men brings to life the crippling destruction that is the result of war. The pain on the faces of these men is ever-present, and yet, amidst the frustration and anger, we can see just how much of a family they really are. Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña), and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) become a troop that we sympathize with, and hope for instantaneously.

 

Norman Ellison, played by Logan Lerman, is faced with the most arduous task of his life as he is assigned to the Fury tank. Joining the army as a typist, Norman is thrust into the most decorated and battle tested tank unit the US has to offer. There is no sympathy to be given for this young man, which becomes clear when his first task is to clean the bloody remains of a soldier out of his new seat. The crew is electrifying in these early moments. Seeing a brother in arms replaced is a pill that will never be swallowed tranquilly, and the Fury boys depict that with brilliance. The hard exterior of these men could possibly be the most challenging barrier for Norman. Pitt demonstrates a side we are not familiar with in this character. In the shadows, we see his weathered shell cracking from the traumas of battle, making him so impossibly human. It is a necessary and devastating sensation to see this man in times of momentary vulnerability. Pitt demonstrates with gusto that every man can be shaken.

 

Ayer produces moments that amaze, as the troops continue their march through enemy forces. The intensity of battle is all too real, and the gruesome nature of combat completely overtakes us. The operations inside the tank are breathtaking. Each man has a job, and that job must be done efficiently in order for them to survive. Brilliant shots and angles conjure anxiety as the fight rages on. We begin to see the true soul of each of these men as they deal with combat in their own way. Norman is the embodiment of good amidst the evil that pollutes the grounds. Logan Lerman quite possibly delivers his best performance yet, as he battles against the ideals of his commanding officer. At times, he even suggests that his own life be taken, rather than killing a surrendered Nazi, just to prove that he cannot perform an act that lacks so much mercy. The rest of the men pressure him to do his job, and acknowledge that compassion and humanity have been barren from these lands for a long time. Yet they can still see the morals and decency that Norman has within him.

 

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After taking a German city, the American troops enjoy brief moments of relaxation. Collier and Norman enter a building and find two German women. This is quite possibly the most memorable scene of the film. Pitt’s behavior is truly fascinating as he shows both respect and dominance over the women. He bathes himself as he orders one to prepare a meal for them, and at the same time, urges Norman to sleep with the younger of the two. There is a confusing aura to the moment. The women cannot process whether to be scared of these men or not, and it shows quite evidently. However, the moment is commanded by Peña and Bernthal. The rest of the unit finds Collier and Norman, and they are overwhelmed by an underlying sense of betrayal. They cannot comprehend that their leader would spend such an intimate moment with the newest member of their tank. These men have bled together and been through hell together countless times. Peña tells a gut wrenching story of their past, making the memory all too real. Bernthal performs disturbingly well. His behavior reeks of a lack of empathy for these two women, and more importantly, for Norman. These men have been broken over time. Slowly but surely, pieces are beginning to fall apart, and you can only wonder how long they will last. While the scene is brutally intense, it is unclear what it is attempting to achieve. There seemed to be moments of clarity that were lost there. Being set up as such a pivotal moment, it didn’t manage to be as impactful as it was likely aimed to be.

 

Ayer creates a finale that rounds our men off effectively. When Fury breaks down after hitting a land mine, the unit is forced to stand against an entire marching battalion of Nazi soldiers. The moment of love and brotherhood the film had been calling for finally comes to life in this last fight. It is demonstrated here that, without question, Shia LaBeouf is the shining star of this film. His performance overflows with purity and honesty as the unit’s religious gunman. His enactment in the final moments demand a connection from the audience. Every man shows that they still occupy their hope and decency to the bitter end. We see that Norman’s beliefs, after being put through the most grueling of tests, were possibly the ones that rang truest in the bitter end.

 

Fury was an emotional escapade, which presented a unique side of the ruthless reality that is war. There were moments that seemed to drag, and yet once it is over, you were not sure how you arrived at the conclusion. A very few times in this film are we left unsatisfied or displeased, however those moments do exist. The theme of the film can be questioned when looking at whom to believe. We are left wondering who is right in their stance on the war. Is it Norman, who believes in mercy and compassion, or is it Sgt. Collier, who knows that the enemy lives to try and kill you, and killing them is the only way to survive? It is hard to accept the ending of this picture based on whom you side with. Never the less, Fury is a story worth sitting through, and one you will likely not regret.

 

About The Author

Contributing Writer

Dan graduated from Babson College with a BS in Marketing and Business Management. Since graduating from college, he has moved to Los Angeles where he works as a writer and actor. Dan is working on numerous screen plays and shorts for both TV and film. Some of my work can be seen on Funny Or Die.