In the early years of this new millennium, the Hollywood industry remains in love with World War II. Unlike European proposals —which sometimes function as cathartic instruments to overcome the traumas of the atrocities of war —, American cinema seems to enjoy watching all those heroic struggles that have defined the lives of their parents and grandparents, all of them ex-combatants of war. 'Fury' (2014) emerges from the propaganda films of war and the splendor of the great battles shown in blockbusters to create an atmosphere much more bleak, dirty, full of dirt and mud.
By not portraying a specific historical event, 'Fury' has the peculiarity of being a reconstruction based on a series of real stories of veterans of the American army who spent most of the time inside the war tanks. The main figures that motivated the director and screenwriter, David Ayer, to make the film, were his grandparents; both officers during World War II (one fought in the Pacific; the other in Europe). Even, the filmmaker himself belonged to the Navy of his country, so the subject is not foreign to him.
Located in Germany in April 1945 —just a few weeks before the German surrender and the conclusion of the war in European territory—, the persevering and rigid sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) heads, inside the 'Fury', apod of an M4 Sherman tank, a small crew made up of the gunner Boyd (Shia LaBeouf), a thoughtful and serene guy who knows the Bible; Charger Grady (Jon Bernthal), an angry, disheveled and lascivious man; the loyal and combative driver Trini (Michael Peña), nicknamed "Gordo" and originally from Mexico, who represents the Latino community belonging to the US military; and Norman (Logan Lerman), a rookie recruit trained as a typist who is ordered to join the "Wardaddy" squad as an auxiliary driver.
Five men locked in a tank dealing with war, with confinement and with themselves. Their mission is part of the final offensive of the allies that go to Berlin; the Germans know they are cornered, but before giving up they will fight desperately. The crew of 'Fury' are dirty, look exhausted and annoyed, at times they are dubious; they are people who have been beastly treated by war. That is the bleak panorama that Norman discovers, the youngest, who is terrified to see the piles of lifeless bodies thrown into the mass grave, the viscera and limbs washed down the streets, a kind of cemetery that exhibits death, reminding him and all the soldiers involved in the war that their will hardly leave alive.
The terror of war, in the best of moments of the film, is examined through psychological experience. Norman is a character who serves as a counterpoint to the crew leader. He is forced to teach him the cruel premise of every war: “We are not here to do good; But to kill. The ideals are peaceful; history is violent. ” In a kind of ritual - symbolizing the passage from boy to man -, Collier forces Norman to shoot a newly captured German officer. Norman's inexperience, his kindness, tranquility and little inclination to violence, make him a threat to his companions. The crew is disgusted to have a "child" as a gunner; they are alarmed at the danger of having a non-violent man on the battlefield. Moreover, they are so infected with a war that they feel disgusted by the innocence of the young man; they have an almost natural impulse to act cruelly against him.
The story is told mainly from the point of view of this character, Norman, a young recruit who is thrown into danger under the tutelage of "Wardaddy", a kind of fierce father figure who guides him during the dangerous mission. One of Fury's central themes is how the experience of war can harden a man, transforming the shyest and innocent into a killing machine.
During moments of passivity, that is, when they are not yet in combat against the Germans, the film offers fragments of the varied interaction between the tank mates. Sometimes it is a hierarchical system where the leader demands and the rest obeys; on other occasions, it is a camaraderie atmosphere among several friends; and there are also moments of indiscipline and subversion of the rebels and revolts of the group.
The director draws considerably away from police and urban crime dramas that he had been accustomed to writing and directing. 'Fury' takes place in a condensed time frame, in which the value of the experiences of a lifetime is overcrowded over a period of 24 hours from dawn to the next dawn. The sergeant not only teaches his young pupil how to kill the enemy but also puts him in contact with the kindness of human relations that Norman misses: the healthy coexistence with another human being.