Much like a tasty burger, the mark of a good, if not great, film is that you are still thinking about it days later.David Aker’s ‘Fury’ is one tasty addition to the World War II genre that has been rumbling around my head like the tanks it portrays for the better part of a week.
I should quickly point out that this is not one of those kids movies with anthropomorphised talking tanks. Quite the opposite. Kids in this film are either dead or killing. This is a dark and grizzly portrayal of war and its participants( as opposed to all those sunny, romantic comedy ones).
Watching this movie, I realised how drawn I am to war stories. Perhaps it was because in Yr12 Media Studies, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was the text I had to study and so I really only know how to critically dissect something with Nazis, Dead Horses and muddy European towns.
‘Fury’ has all of the above required elements which makes me qualified to discuss why I found the movie so good. Where ‘Saving Private Ryan’ showed the Allies/American soldiers as clean cut heroes, the troops on the good tank Fury are a little more grey. In some scenes that crosses into disturbing (see the meal scene, held in an apartment of a German mother and daughter post-battle), but overall these characters seem more flawed and in-turn human.
Why is this important? There are strong religious undertones running throughout this film that talks to a bunch of men needing redemption from something, at times fighting for it. Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ portrayed his men as sacrificial saints, but Aker’s story asks “if these are the extremes that men are capable of, then can anyone be saved, can any be redeemed?”
Brad Pitt is in top form in this one, using his eyebrows where lesser actors would use words. At 51 he is cut like a piece of aged parmesan, in one scene showing off a six-pack that would have a vagrant wrapping it up in a brown paper bag and drinking it under a statue in the park.
He plays Wardaddy, the Sergeant of the tank, leading a bunch of soldier archetypes. There is the hick from the south, the ethnic minority (latino in this instance), the religious guy and the newbie. While most of the story plays off the dynamic of hardened Wardaddy Pitt and pacifist new guy, the really interesting portrayal is Shia Lebeouf (Running for your life from Shia Lebeouf!! Google it) as religious guy.
What I like is that Aker, reportedly a man of faith himself, has delivered up a Christian character that is actually human. Here is a guy who is far from perfect, often swearing, easily angered, prone to violence and rage, with a coherent and articulate grasp on the concept of saving grace and an appreciation for the bible as God’s word. Not perfect, just forgiven.
Ultimately ‘Fury' resonated with me for its humanity, particularly its portrayal of masculinity. The men in this film were capable of bravery and selfish violence, love and rage, despair and hope. I think the thing that is strangely captivating about war is that it is an extreme test of a man’s character, beliefs and resilience.
This gives the war film huge potential to be something more than action fuelled entertainment or a historical reenactment. For this reason, directors will continue to flock to the genre in search of Oscars, acclaim and the chance to get production budget spent on dead horses.