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Apparently, during filming for Fury, Shia TheBeef nearly got into a legitimate fight with Scott Eastwood because the latter kept spitting tobacco juice onto a tank. TheBeef found it disrespectful, which is fairly interesting in itself when you consider the things that he presumably doesn’t find disrespectful, until he realised that the screenplay actually required Eastwood to do it. Brad Pitt is said to be the one who broke up the fight, which is another interesting point, as it means that one of the stories that didn’t involve Brad Pitt still inevitably did. Just like everything else in this film. On the surface, it’s a war film about the hell that a tank division is experiencing, and how awful it must be to live like they’re having to. But really, it’s all just a big vehicle (much like a tank, I suppose) for Brad Pitt to be on screen for a couple of hours in a role that he looks quite good in. It’s far more about the spectacle of its headline star than it is about anything else, even if the cast had to endure a month-long tank combat course in order to prepare for it.

The narrative starts at the tail end of World War 2. Set in Nazi Germany, we meet a veteran crew, as mentioned mostly consisting of Brad Pitt, manning a tank affectionately nicknamed Fury. At some point, one of the guys who isn’t Brad Pitt dies and is replaced by another guy who isn’t Brad Pitt, but this new one is the new guy with no experience trope. What really matters, though, is how Brad Pitt feels about it all. I think I’m being a bit facetious ’cause I’m having a grumpy day, so I’ll try to reign it in from this point.

To the film’s credit, there is a really interesting scene that poses a very worthwhile question of “what on earth would I do in that situation?” – the new recruit’s inexperience and lack of a hardened outlook land them in a difficult situation when he refuses to shoot at a contingent of Hitler Youth. Sure, this is war and they are the enemy, an enemy who would happily take your life should they have the chance to, but they are just children, and I think it’s hardwired into most decent adults that you just shouldn’t harm children. It’s one of the many complexities of war that Fury touches upon, but probably the one that it shows with the most thoughtfulness.

Filmed entirely on location in a rainy English countryside, it’s very effective at putting across the idea that war is hell and that’s what these men are experiencing. It’s dirty, it’s cold and you can almost feel the discomfort that comes from it. It also benefits from using real tanks that have actually seen war, as there are things on them that just couldn’t be recreated by building them as a set instead. Things that wouldn’t even be considered as important aspects to recreate such as half-broken controls inside and general wear and tear that comes from their day-to-day usage. A little piece of attention to detail that I really liked, is that during a scene where the tank is entering a village, a nearby unnamed tank just nonchalantly crushes an already dead body. This is a reference to a real photograph from World War 2 depicting the same.

What is it with war films and bringing out the absolute worst in actors, though? I’ve done my bit about Brad Pitt already and how much the film glorifies him, and that’s fine, but what sounds like a really excruciating experience, naturally, is working with Shia TheBeef. Throughout the film, he has a cut on his forehead, which he’s said to have inflicted upon himself every time he needed it for authenticity. He also apparently pulled his own tooth out, before converting to Christianity during filming. They even had to hide him away in a nearby bed and breakfast because he antagonised the rest of the cast and crew so much. But again, there is a nice detail in the casting underneath all of that, in that all the extras involved (and there are a lot of them) were ex-British military.

There is some thought behind this, and it isn’t completely hollow (much like a tank again, I suppose), but ultimately it’s just a gritty experiential war film that does more for Brad Pitt than it does for anything else. As far as World War 2 goes, I feel we’ve probably seen it all before by this point. Even as far as Brad Pitt in World War 2 goes, I think Inglorious Basterds is probably the better vehicle for him that this tries to be.

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