Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Fury

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Fury

Article excerpt


15, Nationwide

Fury is a second world war drama that plays with us viscerally and unsparingly -- I think I saw a head being blown off; I think I saw a sliced-off face, flopping about -- but is still just another second world war drama. That is, Americans good, Nazis bad, and a man doesn't become a man until he has abandoned all mercy and learned how to kill. 'It's Saving Private Ryan , but with tanks,' I heard someone say as I left the screening, and although I would never steal someone else's opinion, it is Saving Private Ryan , but with tanks, and also sliced off faces. I added that last bit myself.

Written and directed by David Ayer (Training Day , End of Watch ), this stars Brad Pitt as battle-hardened Sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier who commands a Sherman tank. He is an interesting character at the outset -- unsympathetic; falls apart when his men aren't looking -- but ultimately conforms as a regular hero by the end. Courage against all the odds. The glorious nature of macho self-sacrifice. This is what he believes in, ultimately (his tank has 'Fury' graffitied in white paint on its thrusting gun barrel which probably says it all, most phallically). He leads a five-man crew. The men are Shia LaBeouf as 'Bible', who is a committed Christian, and Michael Pena as 'Gordo', the obligatory non-white, Jon Bernthal as 'Coon-Ass', the southern redneck with bad teeth, and new recruit Norman (Logan Lerman), who has been seconded by mistake (he is a typist). Norman is the archetypal new recruit: young, innocent, fearful. He has yet even to fire a gun. He doesn't know about abandoning all mercy and learning how to kill, but he will, obviously. It'll be a steep learning curve, but he'll get there. (In this regard, I had faith in Norman, right from the off.)

Brad Pitt with the crew of the Sherman tank, Fury

These are men who would never encounter each other in civilian life but, hunkered down in the sweaty, dirty, claustrophobic tank decorated with appropriated Nazi memorabilia -- I've never seen this look in Elle Decoration , but it sort of works -- they tightly bond. You thought they wouldn't tightly bond? Have you seen any war films at all? Start with Where Eagles Dare and work your way up. It may even be that all war films are Where Eagles Dare , now served with mighty dollops of gore. …

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