Imagine being surrounded by enemy troops in a storm of weapon fire. The smoke is too thick to see the soldier beside you, and the gun fire is so loud, a constant ringing starts to clog your hearing. Your next move could be your last, but you’ve never been taught how to fight. This is the terrifying reality of Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a mere typing clerk in the U.S. Army.
Norman, who once vowed to never kill another man, was about to become the most critical member of his doomed tank troop. His story is heroically told in Brad Pitt’s new indie war film, “Fury.” “Fury” is named for the seemingly indestructible tank that led Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) and his soldiers through the deadliest battles of WWII. After one of the movie’s most devastating battles, Norman is sent to join the crew even though he is only trained as a typing clerk. Without the respect of his fellow soldiers Gordo (Micahel Pena), Boyd (Shia Labeouf) and Grady (Jon Bernthal), they set out on their first battle together. The story follows Norman’s journey of becoming a man and learning the true meaning of bravery.
Most of the film is shot in dark, rainy locations, adding to the overall somber tone of the film. Landscapes of muddy, rugged and rain-sopped terrain set the background for some of the most gruesome fights of WWII. The luscious green rolling hills of Germany were quickly overshadowed by blood-stained soil and charred debris of past battles. The camera appeared shaky and almost hand-held, creating intense moments of anticipation and realistic ground level shots.
Graphic visuals leave viewers unsettled throughout the entire film, as soldiers seemed to drop like flies at the most sudden moments. In one scene, Norman hesitates firing his weapon at a suspicious spot in the bushes. A Nazi soldier quickly tossed out a fire bomb, lighting one of Norman’s crewmates on fire. The camera panned to the soldier as his flesh ignited and he screeched in pain. Another crewman quickly shot the burning man in an attempt to relieve him of his misery. Though the moment of agony was brief, it did not erase the horrific image scarred in viewers’ minds. Raw scenes of war brutality, such as this one, emphasized the gravity of pain these soldiers endured. It also outlined the importance of Norman’s actions, which is one of the existential crises the character endures.
There were actually multiple moral crises met in this movie, which may have been the reason the plot seemed to linger on sometimes. The epic final battle was no doubt a perfect finale for Norman’s character, but his journey was not exactly an exciting or uplifting one. Also, Norman and Sgt. Collier’s brief love affair distracted from the direction of the plot line and created unnecessary drama amongst characters.
With very little to be uplifted by in this film, it took a long time for the moral of the story to sink in for me. But, Norman’s story was exceptionally courageous and proved the importance of trust. You are left touched by his bravery and somber for the brutality of war. I give this film three-and-a-half out of five stars for its overall visual perfection, but deducted credit for its sometimes bland plotline.