Fury at the Crossroads or, War Makes Us Machines

Did David Ayer consider that his script and movie would offer an underlying critique of the current war on Terror? Sure, it is not the first thing about which you think when Fury presents viewers with a variety of crossroads. But, Wardaddy, Brad Pitt, offers one way this gets communicated, “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”

Maybe we should consider all the places where normally peaceful ideals get worked out in history that may be described as violent. Conflict between nation-states represents but one location for the clashing of ideals that create the occasion for violence. Plenty of current illustrations abound and the current War On Terror, or War on ISIS, is simply the most present in our minds.

fury2One does not need a movie to tell the story of Nazism and the rest of the world. But, Fury does quite the job of giving the viewer a feel of life in a Sherman Tank facing down the SS. Those of us who have not been in war seem to be taken by movies that portray the realities we hope never to face on a personal basis. One young friend remarked, “I am opposed to war but I seem to be attracted to movies on the subject.”

Patty joined me for an advance screening of Fury. I did not suspect she would be interested. On our way to the Quail Springs AMC I told her of my surprise. Her reply, “Brad Pitt.” I never knew! I always thought it was Elvis.

First Impressions

Fury is no Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, or Platoon. It is not intended to be any of these movies that portray certain realities of war. Fury bears a different story than, say, Saving Private Ryan. If anyone gets saved it might be Norman, Logan Lerman. However, the question must be asked, “Saved from what?” I will not spoil if for you since in most places it either opens this evening or tomorrow. Come back after you see the movie and we can discuss this question.

fury3War is bloody. The scars of war run deep and linger long. Maybe we need Ayer and others to produce these sorts of movies portraying the gruesomeness of war lest we become too inoculated against horror that we cannot empathize with wars over there. The young Norman, a solider trained to type 60 words a minute, learns quickly the horrors of war. His resistance is soon replaced by fervor.

It is here that the final battle scene gives rise to my take that Fury offers the viewer a number of crossroads to consider, a number of intersections where our ideals meet reality and we face an uncomfortable violence of sorts. The very reticent Normal faces the very determined Wardaddy commanding his Fury Machine. Oh, the irony when young Norman finally gets his fighting name.

What would a war movie be without the underlying, and outright references to, faith? Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan, Shia LeBeouf, considers survival in war as an act of God. On the other hand, Grady ‘Coon Ass’ Travis, Joe Bernthal, asks if Swan really believes God picks people out with pliers, an odd image to be sure. The movie is not intended to answer that question any more than Ayer hopes to reproduce Platoon. But, unless one goes to see Fury for the sheer joy of a high body count, the question of faith and war is inescapable. Pay attention near the end.

Questions

Is it possible that unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, Ayer hopes viewers will see in his production more than a hoped-for accurate portrayal of tank warfare? What would it mean if we stepped back long enough to see the way the story of holding the crossroads serves as an uncomfortable parable for life? Or, is that simply reading too much into the film?

You will have to see the movie to decide.

Suggestions

If you have a weak stomach you may want to see instead, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. If you want a glimpse of what life might have been like in the tank warfare of WW2, then by all means get your tickets. And, if you want a movie that might prompt you to think about the effects of war and the crossroads of life, be sure to pay attention to Wardaddy and Machine when you make it to the theater.

Stop back after you have seen the movie and post your reaction, review, response. Be sure to include the crossroads you pick up on while viewing.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.