Amar Shaheed Arun Khetarpal made the supreme sacrifice fighting a tank battle against the much feared “Patton Tank” brigade of Pakistan in the battle of Basantar in the 1971 war. He remained inside a partially destroyed tank to finish off the enemy before he could breathe his last. I read his ever inspiring story as a kid and it still lurks in my mind. When I watched Fury, I found an uncanny resemblance to this story. This is film about men who make their own choices. Choices which eventually shape their own future and the future of their country. If a film on the life of Khetarpal is ever made it would be so much like Fury.
This is a film which is almost in the same league as Tigerland, The Thin Red Line and if I may dare say so, Saving Private Ryan. The film doesn’t particularly have a story to tell which we haven’t heard so far but unfolds in a series of episodic events which the crew of a world War II tank which has the word “Fury” engraved on its nozzle, face as they make their way through some of the harshest battles in the heart of Nazi Germany during the April of 1945. The crew is led by Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt), a veteran of the war who has just lost one of his men. As he pitches camp he is reinforced with a new man, Norman (Logan Lerman) who has been in the army for 8 weeks.
As they make their way out of the camp, the tank crew faces their first ordeal when a bunch of German kids blow up a tank of their armada killing many. Wardaddy teaches Norman his first lesson of the war as they move further on. Couple of encounters later they end up in a town where Wardaddy looks for a hot water bath and proper food meal before they move on to some other town. Norman meets a girl he quickly gets attached but whom he loses in the whisker of minutes. Once in the fields, the crew faces their toughest challenge till that time in a marauding Tiger Tank. Anyone who has played “Call Of Duty” or “Medal Of Honor” knows what a Tiger Tank is which is close to an impenetrable beast which also serves as a tank buster.
After their encounter with the Tiger, the crew makes its way to a cross road where Fury gets blown up by a landmine and must wait for reinforcements. As they wait, Norman spots a whole SS battalion coming up on the crossroad. The five crew member must now make choice whether to save their own lives or stay back and face an enemy which numbers in hundreds and end up definitely dead. The rest of the film is about the choices that each of the men makes and the outcome that it brings about in their lives and in the way as whole.
The film follows a pretty straightforward narrative with nothing novel or out of the ordinary done with the film form but what makes it so special is the performances by the ensemble cast and the breathtaking battle sequences. I have seen some of the best visual effects in films over the years but Fury is different. The Hollywood gloss is just scrubbed out of it to an extent that gives the viewer a documentary feel. Tanks blowing off each other and swiping clean the heads of the soldiers never felt this stomach churning. The ambushes have never felt scarier and the men not so real in a long time.
Brad Pitt just keeps getting better and better with every film. Playing a battle weary and scarred sergeant, he goes a couple of notches up of what he had achieved in “Inglourious Basterds”. His eyes speak volumes. He is given tremendous support by Logan Lerman as Norman who is exactly the opposite of what he is and going by his affinity for Norman, the viewers are given a feeling that maybe Wardaddy was either like him in the past or wants to be as humane as he is. Shia LaBeouf as the bible crunching gunner is the next most likeable. The scene where he takes his gun to the enemies is truly inspiring. Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal are superb in their acts. Another uncanny advantage about this film is its constantly grim texture and likewise soundtrack. The film begins with a shadowy horseman making his way through a battle ravaged field looking for alive soldiers when he is attacked and killed by Wardaddy. This scene proves exactly the point that I want to state. The morbid feel that the film strikes in its first scene caries throughout keeping you aligned with the fact that this isn’t exactly a happy story but it surely is an inspiring one.
David Ayer is quickly becoming one of the most attractive new talents to watch out for. After films like Harsh times, End of Watch and Sabotage which I felt was brilliant, he comes up with a film which is as brilliant as it is shattering. I cannot help but feel a strange sense of morose after seating through this film and that I believe is the greatest victory of the director. Don’t miss this film.