Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fury - More Character Study than War Film

The new Brad Pitt WWII drama Fury was underwhelming and not what I expected which left me feeling betrayed by its all-star cast.  The film centers on Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier played by Brad Pitt who commands a Sherman tank crew of five members.  They are all hardened war veterans and have been fighting the Germans since the North African campaign.  Now the crew of Fury (the name of their tank) is pushing into Germany during the final days of WWII in 1945.  The beginning of the film sees the addition of a new member to Collier’s squad, a young typist named Norman Ellison who has never seen a tank, let alone a battle.  Ridiculed by the rest of the crew, young Norman faces an uphill battle to earn the respect and acceptance of the war weary soldiers.  This ends up being almost the entirety of the plot which was both surprising and disappointing.  While the realism that director David Ayer tries to achieve is successful, I found myself wanting a more decisive storyline.  The film does a great job showing the brutality and darkness of war.  The crew of Fury has faced so much hardship and yet still has a long way to go as the war winds down.    Their love of each other is matched only by their hatred of the SS.  The crew, particularly Sgt. Collier despises the SS and takes any opportunity afforded him to kill every last one, regardless of whether they have surrendered or not.  In fact one of the earliest lessons Norman is forced to learn is that you don’t hesitate when it comes to killing the Germans.  Hesitation leads to death because in war you either kill or be killed.  This is one of the largest overall themes that is explored throughout the course of the film and calls into question the morality of many of the crew member’s actions.  In a way, the viewer is Norman.  Thrown into this situation suddenly and forced to react.  We have the same feelings he does in the beginning and as the film progresses we start to not only understand why the crew’s actions are necessary, but also why they are the way they are.  After seeing so much death and destruction, it’s difficult to face your enemy and have any sympathy or remorse.  While the film acts as an interesting character study of each of the men, it doesn’t have a whole lot of substance otherwise.  With the exception of taking a small town, fighting an enemy German tank, and the final push to defend a strategic crossroads, the film didn’t have any big WOW moments.  The point is to focus on the men; to try and see through their eyes.  The best part of the film for me was the simple fact that it was about tanks.  You never see WWII movies on the subject.  It’s always airplanes, naval ships or individual soldiers.  Rarely do we have such a detailed look at the lives of tank crewman and that was without a doubt the most interesting aspect of the film. 

No comments:

Post a Comment