Some seven decades following cessation of what Allied Powers euphemistically termed the European Theatre of military operations, stories about World War II continue to draw significant audiences at the nation’s box office – particularly when Brad Pitt stars as the commander of a tank crew comprised of Shia LeBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and John Bernthal.
Fury earned nearly 24 million its first weekend in theaters thanks largely to male-skewing audiences over the age of 35. The film was written and directed by David Ayers. The story takes place in the waning days of the war in Nazi Germany, the period following the obvious — Germany had lost the war, the Soviets were closing in on the Eastern Front and all that remained was a signed treaty to formalize an unconditional surrender in the face of scattered, isolated holdouts among German forces.
“People often project the moral clarity of the conflict itself into the daily life of the soldier, which is not the case. For the soldier on the ground or in the tank turret, it was incredibly morally murky just like any conflict has ever been. You can look at literature – Red Badge of Courage, All’s Quiet on the Western Front – for those same themes,” Ayers, the man who brought audiences End of Watch in 2012, explains.
“I just wanted to make a film that spotlighted the moral hazards, the psychic hazards, of war itself and the impression it leaves on the human soul and how it affects this family of brothers.”
Brad Pitt plays the leader of that Army family, a battle-hardened character named Don Collier, known to his troops as Wardaddy. The men of Fury, the tank that takes them into battle, have been together for several years as the war winds down and one of their number dies with only weeks left. Logan Lerman portrays the inexperienced newbie dropped in their midst to take his place in the final desperate days of fighting they must survive together to make it out alive.
The actors met with surviving veterans of tank crews who had been in battle during the second world war. Prior to the start of filming in England, the cast spent time together in their own version of boot camp.
Says Lerman, “In pre-production we all became very close. We got to know each other very well. And then we started the movie and it was like the start of another relationship. I would say there was a lot of distance for respect. We emulated I guess our relationships in the movie in a way which was – there was a lot of conflict. There was a lot of conflict on the set. But it was always that thing. I was the new guy. I was the liability and that was the way I was treated.”
Audiences rewarded their efforts with an A- Cinema Score as well as a 97 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have given the film a 92. Fury runs two hours 15 minutes and is rated R for scenes of graphic violence.