Fury (2014 film)

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Fury
Staring into the distance, a dishevelled soldier stands in front of a tank, with "Fury" written on the gun barrel and other soldiers leaning/sitting on and around it.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Ayer
Produced by
Written by David Ayer
Starring
Music by Steven Price
Cinematography Roman Vasyanov
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • October 15, 2014 (2014-10-15) (Newseum)
  • October 17, 2014 (2014-10-17) (United States)
Running time
134 minutes[1][2]
Country United States[3]
Language English
Budget $68–80 million[4]
Box office $211.8 million[5]

Fury is a 2014 American war film written and directed by David Ayer, and starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, and Jason Isaacs. The film portrays US tank crews in Nazi Germany during the final days of World War II. Ayer was influenced by the service of veterans in his family and by reading books, such as Belton Y. Cooper's Death Traps, about American armored units in World War II and the high casualty rates suffered by tank crews in Europe.

Production began in early September 2013, in Hertfordshire, England, followed by principal photography on September 30, 2013, in Oxfordshire. Filming continued for a month-and-a-half at different locations, which included the city of Oxford, and concluded on November 13. Fury was released on October 17, 2014, received positive reviews, and grossed $211 million worldwide.

Plot[edit]

In April 1945, the Allies make their final push into Nazi Germany. Don "Wardaddy" Collier, a battle-hardened U.S. Army staff sergeant in the Second Armored Division, commands an M4 Sherman "Easy Eight" tank nicknamed Fury and its veteran crew: gunner Boyd "Bible" Swan, loader Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis, driver Trini "Gordo" Garcia, and assistant driver–bow gunner "Red". They have been together since the North African campaign and have fought in France and Belgium. Red is killed in action and replaced by Private Norman Ellison, a fresh recruit trained only as a clerk typist.

As the unit moves deeper into Germany, Norman's inexperience becomes dangerous: he fails to react when he spots Hitler Youth child soldiers who ambush the commanding officer's tank with a Panzerfaust, killing the entire crew; later, he hesitates under fire during a skirmish with anti-tank guns. Angered at Norman's incompetence, Don tells him he is useless unless he can kill Germans; after the battle, he orders Norman to execute a captured German soldier for wearing a U.S. Army coat. When Norman refuses to shoot the German in the back, claiming it's not right, Don wrestles the pistol into his hand and forces him to pull the trigger, killing the prisoner and traumatizing Norman.

Don leads the tanks to capture a small German town. While searching an apartment, Don and Norman find a German woman, Irma, and her younger cousin, Emma. Don pays them cigarettes for a hot meal and some hot water for a shave. Norman and Emma then go into the bedroom, bond, and have sex. As the four sit down to eat, the rest of the crew drunkenly barges in, harassing the women and bullying Norman, but Don keeps them firmly in line. They are then called away for an urgent mission, with Norman promising to write as Emma tearfully says goodbye. As the men prepare to leave, German artillery targets the town; Emma is killed in the bombardment, traumatizing Norman further.

The tank platoon is ordered to capture and hold a vital crossroads to protect the division's rear echelon. En route, they are ambushed by a Tiger tank, which wipes out the entire platoon except the Fury. The Fury eventually destroys the Tiger by out-manoeuvring it and firing into its thinner rear armor. With their radio damaged, the Fury is forced to continue on alone. Upon arriving at the crossroads, the tank is immobilized by a landmine. Don sends Norman to scout a nearby hill; there, Norman spots a Waffen-SS battalion approaching their position. The crew wants to flee and let the battalion pass, but Don refuses, and the others then also decide to stay and fight.

The men disguise Fury to make it appear knocked out, and then hide inside. While they wait, Norman is finally accepted by the crew and given his nickname: "Machine." They then ambush the arriving Germans, inflicting heavy casualties in a long and vicious battle. Grady is killed by a Panzerfaust that penetrates the turret, Gordo is shot while unpinning a grenade and sacrifices himself by covering it, a sniper kills Bible and badly wounds Don. Out of ammunition and surrounded, Don orders Norman to escape through an emergency hatch in the floor as the Germans drop grenades into the tank. Norman slips out just before they explode, killing Don. Norman tries to hide as the Germans move on but is spotted by a young SS soldier, who hesitates, then leaves without alerting his comrades.

The next morning, Norman crawls back into the tank, where he covers Don's body with his jacket. He is then rescued by American soldiers, who praise him as a hero. As Norman is driven away in an ambulance, he looks back at the hundreds of dead Germans lying around the destroyed Fury.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

On April 3, 2013, Sony started assembling the cast for the film when Brad Pitt, who previously starred in the WWII-set Inglourious Basterds (2009), entered final talks to take the lead role of Wardaddy.[6] On April 23, Shia LaBeouf joined the cast.[7] On May 1, it was announced that Logan Lerman had also joined Fury's cast, playing Pitt's crew member Norman Ellison.[8] On May 14, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Michael Peña was in negotiations to play a member of Pitt's tank crew. With his addition to the cast, Fury became one of the few films to show Hispanic-Americans serving in WWII.[9] On May 17, Jon Bernthal joined the cast as Grady Travis, a cunning, vicious, and world-wise Arkansas native.[10] On August 26, Scott Eastwood also joined the cast, playing Sergeant Miles.[11] On September 19, Brad William Henke joined as Sergeant Roy Davis, commander of another tank, Lucy Sue (the third Sherman destroyed by the Tiger).[12] Jason Isaacs was cast on October 7, 2013.[13] Other cast members include Xavier Samuel, Jim Parrack, Eugenia Kuzmina, Kevin Vance, and Branko Tomović.[14]

Tiger 131—the only operating Tiger I tank in the world—was lent by The Tank Museum for the film. It is the first time a genuine Tiger I tank was used in a contemporary war film since 1950; 131 was restored to running condition between 1990 and 2003, and further work was only completed in 2012
The Tank Museum's M4A2 76mm HVSS Sherman in 2009,[15] the tank which portrayed Fury in the film.[16]

Preparation[edit]

Prior to filming, Ayer required the actors to undergo a four-month preparation process. This included a week-long boot camp run by Navy SEALs. Pitt stated, "It was set up to break us down, to keep us cold, to keep us exhausted, to make us miserable, to keep us wet, make us eat cold food. And if our stuff wasn't together we had to pay for it with physical forfeits. We're up at five in the morning, we're doing night watches on the hour."

Ayer also pushed the cast to physically spar each other, leading to many black eyes and bloody noses. They insulted each other with personal attacks as well. On top of that, the actors were forced to live in the tank together for an extended period of time where they ate, slept, and defecated.

Ayer defended his choices, saying, "I am ruthless as a director. I will do whatever I think is necessary to get what I want."[17]

Filming[edit]

The film's crews were rehearsing the film scenes in Hertfordshire, England, in September 2013. The crew were also sighted filming in various locations in the North West of England. Brad Pitt was spotted in preparations for Fury driving a tank on September 3 in the English countryside.[18] Principal photography began on September 30, 2013, in the Oxfordshire countryside.[19][20] Pinewood Studios sent warning letters to the villagers of Shirburn, Pyrton, and Watlington that there would be sounds of gunfire and explosions during the filming of Fury.[21][22]

On October 15, 2013, a stuntman was accidentally stabbed in the shoulder by a bayonet while rehearsing at the set in Pyrton. He was taken to John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford by an air ambulance. Police confirmed that they were treating it as an accident.[23] In November 2013, the film caused controversy by shooting a scene on Remembrance Day in which extras wore Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS uniforms. Ayer apologized for the incident, and Sony also made an apology.[24] Filming was wrapped up on November 15, 2013 in Oxfordshire.[25]

Music[edit]

On November 19, 2013, composer Steven Price signed on to score the film.[26][27] Varèse Sarabande released the original soundtrack album for the film on October 14, 2014.[28]

Portrayal of history[edit]

The Schachtellaufwerk wheel arrangement on a Tiger I, which is identical to that on the Tiger 131 used for the movie.

Fury is a fictional film about a tank crew during the final days of the war in Europe. Ayer was influenced by the service of veterans in his family and by reading books such as Belton Y. Cooper's Death Traps, about American armored warfare in World War II. Ayer went to considerable lengths to seek authentic uniforms and weapons appropriate to the period of the final months of the war in Europe.[29]

The film was shot in England, in large part due to the availability of working World War II-era tanks. The film featured Tiger 131, the last surviving operational Tiger I, owned by The Tank Museum at Bovington, England.[30] It is the first time since the film They Were Not Divided (1950) that a real Tiger tank, rather than a prop version, has been used on a film set.[citation needed] Tiger 131 is a very early model Tiger I tank; externally it has some significant differences from later Tiger I models.[31] In the last weeks of the war a number of these early model Tigers were used in last ditch defense efforts; one of Germany's last Tigers to be lost at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was of a similar vintage.[32]

Ten working M4 Sherman tanks were used. The Sherman tank Fury was played by an M4A2 Sherman tank named RON/HARRY (T224875), also lent by The Tank Museum.[33]

Ayer's attention to detail also extended to the maps used in the film. A 1943 wartime map of Hannover, Germany, held in McMaster University’s Lloyd Reeds Map Collection, was used to demonstrate the types of resources relied on by Allied forces.[34]

Map of Hannover, Germany used in the film.

While the storyline is fictional, the depiction of Fury and its commander Wardaddy parallels the experience of several real Allied tankers, such as the American tank commander Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. "War Daddy" Pool, who landed just after D-Day and destroyed 258 enemy vehicles before his tank was knocked out in Germany in late 1944,[35] and the small number of Sherman tanks to survive from the landing at D-Day to the end of the war, such as Bomb, a Sherman tank that landed at D-Day and survived into the bitter fighting in Germany at the war's end, the only Canadian Sherman tank to survive the fighting from D-Day to VE Day.[36] The plot also has some similarities to the battle of Crailsheim, fought in Germany in 1945.[citation needed] The last stand of the crew of the disabled Fury appears to be based on an anecdote from Death Traps, wherein a lone tanker was "in his tank on a road junction" when a "German infantry unit approached, apparently not spotting the tank in the darkness". This unnamed tanker is described to have ricocheted shells into the enemy forces, fired all of his machine gun ammunition, and thrown grenades to kill German soldiers climbing onto the tank. Cooper concluded: "When our infantry arrived the next day, they found the brave young tanker still alive in his tank. The entire surrounding area was littered with German dead and wounded." [37] The battle bears some resemblance to that of Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy aboard a burning M10 tank destroyer outside Holtzwihr in Alsace-Lorraine, on January 26, 1945.[38] The fighting in the film also bears similarity to the film Sahara (1943), starring Humphrey Bogart, in which the crew of an M3 Lee named "Lulu Belle" and a contingent of stranded British soldiers defend a remote well in Libya against a larger German force of the Afrika Korps,[39] to the demise of most of the Allies.[40]

Release[edit]

Sony Pictures had previously set November 14, 2014 as the American release date for Fury.[41] On August 12, 2014, the date was moved up from its original release date of November 14, 2014 to October 17, 2014.[42] The film premiered in London on October 20, 2014 as a closing film of London Film Festival[43] and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2014.

Fury had its world premiere at Newseum in Washington, D.C. on October 15, 2014,[44] followed by a wide release across 3,173 theaters in North America on October 17.[45]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on January 27, 2015. It was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on May 22, 2018.[46]

Partnership with World of Tanks[edit]

The film additionally had a partnership with the popular online video game World of Tanks, where the main tank from the film, Fury, was available for purchase in-game using real currency for a limited time after the film's release. The tank also served as the centerpiece in themed events in the vein of the film following its release. The Blitz version has been widely criticized due to the lack of attention to detail on the in game Fury Model.[47][48][49] An Ipetitions page was created with a goal of 1,000 signatures seeking Wargaming to fix the Fury tank model, only 176 signatures have been signed as of Thursday, September 6, 2018.

As part of the UK DVD release, the game also hid 300,000 codes inside copies of the film, which gave in-game rewards and bonuses.[50]

Internet leak[edit]

The film was leaked onto peer-to-peer file-sharing websites as part of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack by the hacker group "Guardians of Peace" on November 27, 2014.[51] Along with it came four unreleased Sony Pictures films (Annie, Mr. Turner, Still Alice, and To Write Love on Her Arms).[51] Within three days of the initial leak, Fury had been downloaded an estimated 1.2 million times.[51]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Fury was a box office success. The film grossed $85.8 million in the US and Canada, and $126 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $211.8 million, against a budget of $68 million.[5]

US and Canada[edit]

Fury was released on October 17, 2014, in North America across 3,173 theaters.[52] It earned $1.2 million from Thursday late-night showings from 2,489 theaters.[53][54] On its opening day, the film grossed $8.8 million.[55][56][57] The film topped the box office on its opening weekend earning $23,500,000 at an average of $7,406 per theater.[58][59] The film's opening weekend gross is David Ayer's biggest hit of his (now five-film) directorial career, surpassing the $13.1 million debut of End of Watch and his third-biggest opening as a writer behind 2001's The Fast and the Furious ($40 million) and 2003's S.W.A.T. ($37 million).[60] In its second weekend the film earned $13 million (-45%).[61]

Other countries[edit]

Fury was released a week following its North American debut and earned $11.2 million from 1,975 screens in 15 markets. The film went number one in Australia ($2.2 million) and number five in France ($2.1 million).[62][63] In UK, the film topped the box office in its opening weekend with £2.69 million ($4.2 million) knocking off Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which earned £1.92 million ($3.1 million) from the top spot.[64][65] In its second weekend the film added $14.6 million in 44 markets, bringing the overseas cumulative audience [cume] to $37.8 million. It went number one in Finland ($410,000) and in Ukraine ($160,000).[66]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 76% based on 238 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Overall, Fury is a well-acted, suitably raw depiction of the horrors of war that offers visceral battle scenes but doesn't quite live up to its larger ambitions."[67] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 64 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[68] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale. The opening weekend audience was 60% male, with 51 percent over the age of 35.[69]

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr gave 2.5 out of 4 and talked about Pitt's character Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier, commenting on Wardaddy's portrayal as "the battle-scarred leader of a tank crew pushing through Germany toward Berlin, Brad Pitt creates a warrior who is terse, sometimes noble, more often brutal." Another critic, Burr, explained that Ayer portrayed in the character of Wardaddy "a figure both monstrous and upstanding. In one scene, he shoots a captured enemy officer in the back. A few scenes later, he's protecting two German women from being assaulted by his own men." Burr further stated that, "Fury gives us terrible glimpses: tank treads rolling over a body pancaked into the mud, an elderly woman cutting meat off a dead horse, a woman in a wedding dress among a crowd of refugees. Fury wants to lead us to a fresh consideration of 'the good war' while simultaneously celebrating the old bromides and clichés. No wonder it shoots itself in the tank."[70]

Newsday's Rafer Guzman admired director Ayer, who "does a good job of putting us inside the tank Fury"; with "all the extra blood and brutality, this is still a macho and romanticized war movie", and he singled out Pitt, who he said "serves honorably in the John Wayne role".[71] Deadline Hollywood's Pete Hammond praised Lerman's performance saying it could be "Oscar-worthy".[72]

It never scales the cinematic heights or reaches the same groundbreaking level as Saving Private Ryan, but it's intensely ferocious and relentlessly rough on the senses. You'll know you've been to war, and not on the Hollywood front.

— Rex Reed, New York Observer[73]

Film critic Christopher Orr of The Atlantic magazine said that the film "is too technically refined to be a truly bad movie, but too narratively and thematically stunted to be a good one. In a sense, it succeeds too well in conjuring its own subject matter: heavy, mechanical, claustrophobic, and unrelenting."[74] The Philadelphia Inquirer's Steven Rea gave the film 3 out of 4 and praised, "Fury presents an unrelentingly violent, visceral depiction of war, which is perhaps as it should be. Bayonets in the eye, bullets in the back, limbs blown apart, corpses of humans and horses splayed across muddy, incinerated terrain. Ayer brought a similar you-are-there intensity to his 2012 cops-on-patrol drama, End of Watch (also with Peña)." But on the opposite side of Rea's admiration, he thinks, "It wouldn't be right to call Fury entertaining, and in its narrow focus (as narrow as the view from the tank's periscope), the film doesn't offer a broader take on the horrors of war—other than to put those horrors right in front of us, in plain view."[75] Chris Vognar wrote the review for The Dallas Morning News giving the film "B+" grade, in which he writes about "War" which he thinks is, "hell," and also "relentless, unsparing, unsentimental and violent to the mind, body and soul. Fury conveys these truths with brute force and lean, precise drama."[76] Kenneth Turan for the Los Angeles Times praised the film highly, writing: The "best job I ever had" sentence "is one of the catchphrases the men in this killing machine use with each other, and the ghastly thing is they half believe it's true."[77]

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter simply said, "Fury is a good, solid World War II movie, nothing more and nothing less. Rugged, macho, violent and with a story sufficiently unusual to grab and hold interest, it's a modern version of the sort of movie Hollywood turned out practically every week back in the 1940s and 1950s."[78] Peter Debruge wrote for the magazine Variety in which he praised Pitt, "Brad Pitt plays a watered-down version of his 'Inglourious Basterds' character in this disappointingly bland look at a World War II tank crew."[79] The Wrap's James Rocchi gave a 4 out 5 rating and said the film is "unflinching, unsentimental and never unconsidered, "Fury's rumbling, metal-clad exterior has real humanity, fragile and frightened, captured and caged deep within it."[80] Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News rated the film 3 out of 4 and talked about LaBeouf "who's most impressive, inhabiting the soul of a scripture-quoting soldier who seeks guidance from the Word in hopes of remaining on a moral path. While much has been made about the reportedly extreme lengths he took to prep for the role, the fact remains it is one of his best performances."[81] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave a 4-out-of-4 rating and wrote: "A great movie lets you know you're in safe hands from the beginning."[82] James Berardinelli also gave the film a positive review saying: "This is a memorable motion picture, accurately depicting the horrors of war without reveling in the depravity of man (like Platoon). Equally, it shows instances of humanity without resorting to the rah-rah, sanitized perspective that infiltrated many war films of the 1950s and 1960s. It's as good a World War II film as I've seen in recent years, and contains perhaps the most draining battlefield sequences since Saving Private Ryan.[83]

The New York Times' critic A. O. Scott praised the film and Pitt's character, "Within this gore-spattered, superficially nihilistic carapace is an old-fashioned platoon picture, a sensitive and superbly acted tale of male bonding under duress."[84] Rex Reed of The New York Observer said, "The actors are all good, Mr. Pitt moves even closer to iconic stardom, and young Mr. Lerman steals the picture as the camera lens through whose eyes and veins we share every dehumanizing experience. Purists may squabble, but if you're a history buff or a pushover for the sight of a man engulfed in flames who shoots himself through the head before he burns to death, you'll go away from Fury sated."[73] The Arizona Republic's critic Bill Goodykoontz said, "In terms of story, structure and look (with the exception of the gore), this movie could have been made at any time in the past 70 years."[85] To Goodykoontz review, Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the reply, "Given how many World War II films have emerged in the last 70 years, it requires a thoroughly fresh angle to make one seem distinctive." Puig also said, "Flesh-and-blood soldiers play second fiddle to the authentic-looking artillery in Fury, rendering the film tough and harrowing, but less emotionally compelling than it could have been."[86] The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky gave the film a "C+" grade and said, "It's all very Peckinpah-or at least it could be, if Ayer had any sense of poetry."[87] The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote a negative review, saying "At its weakest, Fury contributes a frustrating percentage of tin to go with the iron and steel."[88]

Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald gave the film 2 out of 4 and said, "War is hell. That's entertainment, folks."[89] Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly said, "This is an ugly part of an ugly war, and Ayer wallows in it. Instead of flags and patriotism, Fury is about filth: the basins of blood, the smears on the soldiers' exhausted faces, the bodies pushed around by bulldozers, a decomposing corpse that's melted into the mud."[90] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave 3 out of 4 and said, "Written and directed with exacting skill and aching heart by David Ayer, Fury captures the buried feelings of men in combat with piercing immediacy."[91] The New York Post's Kyle Smith said that he "couldn't help suspecting that there's a pornographic leer to it all, a savage glee."[92] Tom Long wrote for The Detroit News and gave the film negative reviews, "Fury is a brutal film that too easily celebrates rage and bloodshed to no clear end beyond ugly spectacle."[93] The Globe and Mail wrote: "Fury…is a war movie with balls of steel and marbles for brains."[94] Chris Klimek of NPR praised the film and actors, "Fury is a big step up in sophistication. Where it elevates itself from being merely a believably grimy, well-acted war drama is in its long and surprising middle act."[95] New York magazine's David Edelstein admired the film in his own words, "Though much of Fury crumbles in the mind, the power of its best moments lingers: the writhing of Ellison as he's forced to kill; the frightening vibe of the scene with German women; the meanness on some soldiers' faces and soul-sickness on others'."[96]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Award / Film Festival Category Recipients Result
Critics' Choice Awards Best Action Movie Nominated
Best Actor in an Action Movie Brad Pitt Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards Hollywood Editing Award Jay Cassidy and Dody Dorn Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Original Score - Feature Film Steven Price Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Feature English Language - Effects/ Foley Nominated
National Board of Review Top Ten Films Won
Best Cast Won
People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actor Brad Pitt Nominated
Favorite Movie Dramatic Actor Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Actor in a Supporting Role Logan Lerman Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Art Direction & Production Design Andrew Mendez, Peter Russell Nominated
Best Editing Dody Dorn, Jay Cassidy Nominated
Best Original Score Steven Price Nominated
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Award Logan Lerman Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Drama Nominated
Choice Movie Actor: Drama Logan Lerman Nominated

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]