Fury (2014) — Tanks ahoy across WW2 Europe

“Best job I ever had.”

Justin’s rating: Now I know what I don’t want to be when I grow up

Justin’s review: I don’t know if this ever happens to others, but sometimes I stumble upon an interesting YouTube clip of a movie I’ve never seen before, then end up watching a bunch more random clips from the same movie. And after like five or six of those, it’s probably time to actually see the full film. That’s the process that led me to Fury.

While not based on any actual true story from World War II, Fury drew inspiration from the book Death Traps and accounts from actual tanker crews during the war. The idea was to recreate the feel of this specialized form of combat during a specific period of history. And while Fury sometimes is more gruesome than it needs to be, I think it succeeds in conveying this feel to the audience.

It’s the final weeks of the European front, and a battle-hardened tank crew led by Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) are ordered to make their way ever-deeper into the heart of Germany. Unfortunately for this team, their gunner is killed at the start of the film and is replaced by what the kids these days call a total noob. That’s not good news for the Fury crew, because this guy is likely to get them killed rather than the Germans.

The noob, Norman, is the audience surrogate for a grisly tour of war, going from a scared wet-behind-the-ears clerk to a part of the essential war machine. We see his terror at actual combat, revulsion over the killings, and, gradually, anger over the German atrocities they see everywhere. The only way he’s going to survive is to come under the reluctant mentorship of Wardaddy.

But the real meat and potatoes of Fury is the hardcore tank combat that plays out in several memorable sequences. By pitting smoking metal against flesh, this movie makes a good case for how very good we got at killing people and how awful it must’ve been to be on these battlefields.

It’s a well-made war flick for that, delivering some exciting moments while also dishing out quite a few “I wish I hadn’t seen that” parts that feel like they’re tacked on to give gorehounds something to talk about afterward.

Without the “based on a true story” prefix, it’s hard to fool yourself into believing that you’re learning anything about history. Instead, it’s an intense feeling, a rather stirring soundtrack, and a solid war movie. Nothing more.

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