By Britton Pereleman, For The Miami Student
We all learned about World War II in high school and, if your school was anything like mine, probably more than once. Our teachers lectured about how awful the war was, especially on the front lines, but we don’t truly understand the realities of how bad it really was. Movies like “Fury” have the ability to take us back in time and show us history in a way the textbooks we read never could.
“Fury” tells the story of April 1945, when the Allies were pushing into the heart of Nazi territory and the Germans were in the midst of all-out war. It focuses on the five-man crew of a tank called “Fury,” led by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt). After only eight weeks in the army, Norman Ellison (Logan Lehrman) joins the crew right before they set off to gain control of German towns and invade the enemy lines.
Brad Pitt plays the tough sergeant “Wardaddy” and he plays him well. Don is a no-nonsense leader; he promised his crew that he’d get them home alive and he’s going to do it if it kills him. He understands warfare, both what he needs to do to beat the German tanks and what his men need because of the taxing situation they’re all in. Pitt commands the screen as his character commands the battlefields. His best moments are when he’s acting without speaking — when he ducks away after his crew returns to the military outpost, when he washes up after they take over a German town, when he’s surveying the situation before yelling orders at his crew.
Logan Lehrman demonstrates the depth of his acting ability as Norman, the fragile clerical assistant suddenly thrown into the middle of a gruesome war. But it was Shia LeBeouf, as Boyd “Bible” Swan, that really surprised me. His performance established him as more than a childhood Disney actor. When I was watching him pray over dying soldiers and deal with living inside a tank with four other men, I wasn’t thinking of him as the curly headed Louis Stevens from Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens” or in an orange jumpsuit digging holes in the desert. Instead, he was a WWII soldier, through and through.
“Fury” was horrific, and I say that in the most complimentary way. The imagery was so gruesome and so incredibly well done. I am forever in awe of how they make the horrors of war seem so real in movies like this one.
There were buildings and people being blown apart right and left, bodies being run over by tanks, nurses throwing out pans of blood as they try to save soldiers’ lives. Poor Norman was forced to clean up the liquid remains of his predecessor in the tank, something I don’t think anyone in the audience was prepared to see.
The sheer realness of it all was enough to keep me in suspense for the entire two hours.
Even during scenes that were meant to be a break from the chaos, I was constantly expecting the worst. Only toward the end did I grow used to the sound of cannon fire and the explosions that followed. There wasn’t a single moment in the movie when I was absolutely sure as to what the ending would be.
At one point in the movie, Don tells Norman that, “Ideals are peaceful; history is violent.”
“Fury” brought that to life. Never before have I understood the destruction of WWII, and after watching this I feel hardened, like I’ve spent time on the battlefield myself. It isn’t a movie that you absolutely need to go see, but you should.
It will make you see WWII in a new light, it will make you understand the horrors of war and appreciate those who lived them, often for months or even years, in a way that you didn’t before.