Friday, October 17, 2014

Fury

There are fine films that I have no need to watch more than once. They are films like Schindler's List that are well made and convey something real, even admirable, but also realistically terrible. Films that I'm glad were made but that are hard to sit through precisely because they are so well made. The reviews are making Fury sound like one very good war movie, comparing it favorably to films like Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down, but few of them discern the message that the reviewer at World magazine finds admirable. I hope I do. I will see this film sooner or later and although I may like it chances are it will fall into the "watch once" category. From the World review:
Perhaps not since Saving Private Ryan has a war film featured such harrowing, realistic scenes of bloodshed as Brad Pitt’s latest, Fury. Yet while the carnage is frequent and unrelenting (along with regular profanity, it earns the film a strong R rating), with the exception of one brief scene, it doesn’t feel gratuitous. ....

The story centers on tank commander Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt) and his embattled crew. They are in the final days of World War II, deep in German territory, in a Sherman tank that is far inferior to the ones they’re up against. They have just lost a long-time brother-in-arms and discover that his replacement is a young typist with no battlefield experience. ....

Introducing a rookie into a group of grizzled, been-everywhere-seen-everything veterans is a common war-film setup, but it’s still gripping to watch the green, erudite Norman (Logan Lerman) learn what service and honor are really about. ....

Throughout the film Collier and his men joke that being a soldier is “the best job I ever had.” .... Though they will bear the physical and psychological scars of their time in the fight for the rest of their lives, the fight is worthy. This is especially evidenced by the character of Boyd “Bible” Swan (played by a phenomenal Shia LaBeouf).

This may go down hard with some readers, but I actually like that the evangelical Boyd drinks, smokes, and swears with the rest of the crew, though he does not join them in soliciting sex or stealing. He is a real, flesh-and-blood proselytizer who sometimes makes light of his Christian persona but never makes light of his Christianity. Yes, at times Boyd’s fleshly fear and grief win out over his reborn spirit (as it would with anyone in his situation), yet his faith is deeper than superficial rule-keeping. When other soldiers are stripping dying German combatants of their valuables, Boyd holds their hands and whispers into their ears, urging them in their last moments to call on the name of Christ and be saved. He offers an affecting image of an unconflicted heart carrying out the duties of country and Creator simultaneously. .... [more]