Both Travis and Ellison are part of a five man crew, delving deep behind enemy lines in their tank, affectionately named ‘Fury’. Making up the rest of the squadron are Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) and their unforgiving sergeant and commander, Don Collier (Brad Pitt). It’s April, 1945 – and the American troops are working their way through Germany, claiming every town as they proceed. Until they come up against what appears to be a formidable, vast assemblage of Nazi troops.
In a similar vein to Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, Fury is uncompromising and laborious in its approach, with absolutely no let off from the moment this starts, right up until the very end. Even during moments of supposed serenity you can never once relx for the fear of what’s lurking in the background, such is the setting of this film, taking place in Germany, where the US soldiers are the minority. Setting this picture in 1945, at the very end of the war, is also an effective detail, as our protagonists are exhausted. Where this film picks up, we get the impression they’re worn out, tired and ready to go home. It also adds to the poignancy of any potential deaths that take place, knowing just how close to the end they have got.
We know nothing of these men either, with no background information provided at all – but we don’t need to. In war the notion of the individual is sadly a lost one, as we only ever hear about statistics; how many died, how many didn’t. Ayer enforces this sentiment, and yet still allows for us to get attached to the lead roles. But he doesn’t romanticise the camaraderie amongst the troops, and at times there’s even more vitriol in-house them than against the Germans. But when they enter the war zone they are brothers in arms, a team. The banter between them, however, does feel unnatural and contrived in parts, feeling a little too closely entwined with Ayer’s preceding endeavour, the underwhelming actioner Sabotage.
Thankfully, Fury is much closer in quality to another of Ayer’s back catalogue End of Watch, as an unwavering, barbaric picture that depicts both the futility of war with the brutality of it, in a bold, intrepid manner. Anything less would be a disservice, after all. So, to answer to question quoted in the very first line of this review – yes, we do. We really, truly do.