Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fury.. a review

Steve the Wargamer has never been what you would call "up to date" with his viewing habits.. to be honest I watch very little on the haunted fish tank theses days, it's mostly repeats, or formulaic nonsense, but every now and again he finds an hour to sit down and watch something.. 

Anyway, I bought this for my Dad for Fathers Day (along with the truly, seriously, awesome, and excellent, Benedict Cumberbatch/Alan Turing/Enigma [clicky] offering which I had seen), and as he was visiting, and he knew I hadn't seen it, he brought it with him...

The film starts from the the truism that the Allied tanks in the Second World War were inherently inferior to the Germans, and the thrust of the story is about a veteran tank commander (Pitt - who has served in tanks since Africa) who has promised his crew he will do everything possible to bring them through the war safely...

The film is set late in the war, April 1945, and the Allies are advancing through Germany after Hitler has proclaimed his total war, all men women and children are ordered to resist...

The film is errrr...  brutal, no other word for it..  don't expect any light moments... it starts with Pitt killing a German by stabbing him in the eye ball and it doesn't change much from there on in. It owes a whole truck load to the Peckinpah Wild Bunch school of "realistic" film making, but where something like Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" made me rip it out of the video machine and chuck it in the bin after 10 minutes (utter bolleaux in case your wondering..) this was mesmerising...

Everything in the film is dirty, gritty, grey, and muddy; the inside of the tank (an M4 Sherman "Easy Eight") is filthy, and so are the crew... the experience of the war has brutalised them, they have a pathological hatred of any SS (it is intimated that they were present when one of the camps was liberated) and they shoot them on sight, irrespective of whether they have surrendered or not, at times... they also have an incredibly close bond, they've been together a long time and it shows..


Cue then a new recruit arrives to replace a recently killed member of the close knit crew..  he's very young, and the story is basically about how he learns to fit with them, and what they do to help him.. all set against the every day struggle just to stay living whil serving in what the Germans called the "Tommy Cooker".

The film was inspired by a number of war time biographies by actual tankies (the main one seems to be Belton Y. Cooper's "Death Traps" NB. Only £3.64 on Kindle!), and also by the directors own family who also served, and to the limits of my research/reading it seems remarkably authentic.. having to prime shells before they are fired...  use of smoke, and speed to counter fire power, etc... the scene where three Sherman's take on a Tiger (and this is the first film since the end of the actual war to feature a real Tiger tank - the one in the film is the one from Bovington Tank Museum, as is the Sherman portraying "Fury" come to that) is frightening, and the end scene shorty after at the cross roads is brutal..  brilliant.

I'm still thinking about it now almost a week after seeing it...  stunning..  Steve the Wargamer gives this one a 9 out of 10, right up there with "Saving Private Ryan".

25 comments:

  1. Excellent review of one of current favourites Steve, as you say it's pretty brutal! I watched the press conference for this film and it was clear they had all spent a lot of time researching and back building the story in an effort to get it right, and as Pitt said "if the veterans tell us we got it right, then I'm happy". They crammed a lot in there, the scene when the 'Hitler Youth' teenagers fire a panzerfaust into the side of the lead Sherman is shocking in its brutality.

    Steve, if you have not watched it already I would recommend 'White Tiger', it's on YouTube in full with English subtitles. It's a brilliant Russian portrayal of the tankers world, and while the Tiger' (not sure it is actually a Tiger, but it's a bloody big beast), seems to shoot at far too high a rate, it's a great film, every bit as good as Fury in my opinion :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoQ1jXmpIKc

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  2. I'd been expecting it to be rubbish after reading some reviews but I was riveted and shocked all at the same time. I'd say that it's even better than Saving Private Ryan although clearly that film nust have had some influence on this one. Although gritty and realistic (not that I've ever been in combat!) it does seem a bit far fetched at the end - excellent though!

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    1. Stryker - ditto - but the longer I watched it the more I got sucked in.. mesmerising film.

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  3. Bovington has the Easy 8 set up as in the film in a special display, really brings the reality home to me.

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    1. Benjamin - be interesting to see, and I keep meaning to go to the museum..

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  4. The final sequence was a bit too Hollywood, but by that stage I didn't care; I was sold on the story and characters.

    'Inglorious Basterds' was also excellent, though - but it's a western with a WWII setting, not a war-movie.

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    1. KK - going to have to disagree on "Inglorious Basterds".. :o)

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  5. As I am a German you can imagine that this film is far from good for me. The equipment is great to see. The only realistic scene in this movie is the one tiger knocking out three Shermans. But I wondered too while he simply hasn't turned right not to have the fourth Sherman in his back.

    The absolute nonsense was the last 45 minutes. A whole batallion of Waffen-SS shot down by a simple Sherman with a crew of five soldiers. In reality the US tank would be ablaze after five minutes in this fight.

    I have no problem to see the Germans as the bad guys in a movie. But to be stupid (charging a tank with a K-98 rifle, a sharpshooter who crawled up to five meters of the tank and even than needed three shots to wound a free standing man, Elite-Soldiers with Panzerfaust who forgot that they have such a weapon etc. etc.)

    In my eyes one of the worst WW2 movies of the last years and far away from Private Ryan which was really a good movie.

    cheers
    Uwe

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    1. I'm on Uwe's side of the house with this one, but I'll be more charitable ans say it's a bit of a curate's egg.

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    2. Hi Uwe - yeah, that's fair enough... :o) I think I'd agree with Kaptain Kobold and yourself that the ending was a little far fetched but apparently it was based on an actual event - Audie Murphy's actions at Holtzwihr in Alsace-Lorraine on January 24, 1945 (I read that and was amazed)...

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    3. Gary - more good than bad though - and as wargamers. we're very picky... my Dad is an ex-submariner, I've given up watching submarine films with him..! :o))

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  6. Steve, shame on you. This film is shit, the same as Inglorious Basterds was. The final scenes, as Uwe says, are a disgraceful joke. In earlier scenes, it seems that standard tactics for US Sherman crews were a frontal assault or... a frontal assault. This is dumb Hollywood nonsense at its worst, dressed up as authentic by it's violent nature.

    Sorry to be brutal - you know from previous exchanges that I hold your blog in high esteem. I guess stuff like films is so much to do with personal taste.

    Best wishes as always, Keith.

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    1. C'mon Keith, you know I hate it when you hold back... :-) You're right of course, as ever, one mans meat etc. I must read further, but certainly in north Africa we did have a distressing habit of attacking head on...

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  7. I watched this at the cinema when it came out. I enjoyed it a lot, but of course I realise that the ending was very 'Hollywood' as others have said. Having said that by that point in the movie I didn't care, I was utterly absorbed. I've read a lot of books by ex tank soldiers and recognised lots of scenarios in the scenes being played out. The film makers had their fictional crew experience a whole war's worth of such events in the course of their story but the point wasn't to show a typical crews real experiences but to summarise the experiences of hundreds of crews across the whole of campaign. The premise of the film was "what was it like to be part of an allied tank crew in WWII" and for me the film hit the mark exactly.

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    1. Nicely said Lee... I guess that at the bottom of this you will either like or not like the film based on your preconceptions of what you think it was actually like.. None of us was there so those preconceptions are formed from what we have read.. I thought it made a pretty good fist of it...

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  8. What it is is a Commando comic story as told by a rivet counter wargamer! (I love Commando comics)...

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  9. I agree with much of what's been said above, yes, the ending was a bit silly and as Uwe said that tank would have been burning in minutes, the 'dancing Tiger & Sherman' scene also looked very unrealistic, BUT I still love the movie !

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    1. Lee - a very tardy thanks for the comment! :o)

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  10. I thought the film hollywood tosh. However it was well directed tosh and the quality of the set dressing and design was top class. In terms of the underlying history though I was impressed to see a reasonably unvarnished portrait of the American Army at the end of the campaign suffering from all of the problems that the book "Citizen Soldiers" documents so well. The dire potential effect on morale of the the Replacement Depot posting policy, both to the man posted and in this case the crew upon which he has been inflicted. The lack of hot food and other basics and their effect on character, that some individuals can remain resilient and that others cannot and find ways to survive. I also the thought that some of the scenes of interaction within the tank during action were well scripted and played. Definitely in the curates egg category.

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    1. Graham - very nicely put... A philosophical question, to all of us indeed, do any of us know any films that aren't basically "Hollywood tosh" (and would we want to see a war film that was entirely and utterly realistic...??)

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  11. This comes a bit tardy to the party, but I'm on your side, Steve: the movie is incredible. I don't have nearly as much of a problem with the ending as did Uwe and some others. By the end of the war SS units were as understrength and badly off as the regular army, with kids, old men, and barely-trained civilians in their ranks. Thus, the incompetence of a "battalion" of SS (damned small battalion, by the way) was entirely believable to me.

    I liked this better than Private Ryan, actually; the first few minutes and the final battle at the end of that film were great, but the human interest crap in the middle was an endurance test for me. And I totally agree with you on Basterds. A lot of it was, eh, OK, but killing all of the top bad guys in a theatre in Paris after the Allies had landed in Normandy??? Why go that stupidly far? It's interesting that the trailers in the ads on TV did not show any of that. Had I known how it would end, I'd have saved my money.

    Keep up the great work--your blog is a favorite stop for me!

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

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    1. Cheers Chris.. must get a copy of my own for another watch.

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