Granger on Movies: 'Fury'
Not since Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) has there been a World War II picture as barbaric and brutal as David Ayer's depiction of the physical and emotional horror that "boots on the ground" really represents.
Set in 1945, it revolves around the 2nd Armored Division that's been in combat for years and is on its last reserve of manpower. After slogging through Africa, to Normandy, across the Rhine and into Germany, the crew of the M4 Sherman tank dubbed "Fury," led by Sgt. Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt), is exhausted.
As their story begins, they've lost one of their original five squad members. He's been replaced by a fresh-faced, raw recruit, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a former office clerk/typist who just finished basic training and has no fighting experience. If Norman cannot function as an integral part of the team, his ineptitude endangers everyone else. So Wardaddy must get him hardened and battle-ready in 24 hours. "Ideals are quiet. History is violent," he explains. "We're not here for right and wrong. We're here to kill."
Writer/director David Ayer ("Training Day," "End of Watch") is obsessed with the vulnerability of men and their visceral need for camaraderie. It's all about characters and their relationships, a claustrophobic brotherhood in arms. Smart, swaggering, stoic Wardaddy is their acknowledged leader, muttering, "Best job I ever had." A deeply religious man, Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LeBeouf), the gunner, is always quoting scriptures; Grady "Gordo" Travis (Michael Pena) is the Mexican-American driver, and ordinance loader Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal) is a Southern redneck.
In this bleak, heavy-handed scenario, the Americans are good guys; the Nazis are bad guys, particularly the fanatical SS units. The tanks roll through grimy muck and mud, as trucks shovel piles of dead bodies into mass graves. Above all, there is a pervasive sense of authenticity and consistency in emotional tone as Norman's initial innocence is completely corrupted.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Fury" is an intensely savage 7. Mission accomplished.
- For more about movies and theater, check the website: www.susangranger.com.