Saturday, October 25, 2014


Movie Review - Fury

Saw the new, decent WWII flick, Fury. Here are my thoughts. As usual, this is a review, not a preview, so I reveal all details. You should only read this after you see it yourself. It's set in the last full month of WWII-European Theater in western Germany. We've won the war but some of the Germans haven't been keeping up on current events. The fanatics fight on.

Pitt and crew are in a slightly upgraded M4 Sherman tank, whose military alpha-numerical designation ended in E8, so these tanks were called Easy Eights. It has a 76mm gun with a muzzle brake and a better engine. Our canons did not develop the muzzle velocity of the same caliber German canons; and in some of the tanks, the Germans fielded even bigger guns, namely the 88mm. We made up for the fact that our tanks were inferior to the PKWs V and VI (Panthers and Tigers) by having a lot more tanks. I think we produced 60,000 Shermans during the war; the Germans did not break 8,000 Tigers and Panthers (3/4 of that production was of Panthers). The movie succeeds best where it shows the unrelenting horrors of tank warfare undercut by an equally intense camaraderie among the crew. Oh, and it uses the elegant definition of heroism, defense of a narrow place against odds, to the limit.

Problems: It is often very difficult to hear what our guys are saying. Most of the German lines were crisp and clear. What's up with that? The forced murder of the German in an American coat is nasty and pointless. (My cousin, who fought there and wrote one of Dick Cheney's favorite books about it, said we didn't start killing prisoners until after D-Day. He never mentioned a particular antipathy to Waffen SS). The lunch with the two Fräulein is nasty and pointless. In the real war, if the soldiers in the SS Brigade were hell bent on doing maxim damage in a suicide attack and had even the least bit of experience, they would have spent no more than a minute or two trying to take out the immobilized Sherman with one or two panzerfausts and then, if that failed, they would have gone around the tank, by an out of range path, to commit suicide against a less determined force further west. Under no circumstances would they have stood around shooting it with mere bullets. That's just stupid. It's inches of steel all around. Perhaps a 3 HL magnetic mine would have been helpful. Additionally, don't the hatches on tanks have a locking mechanism? In Saving Private Ryan, our guys just lift up the faux Tiger tank's main hatch (which was nothing like a real Tiger hatch) and drop in grenades. Same here. Couldn't the tankers twist a handle or something to prevent the enemy from opening the hatch from the outside? Jeez, I have to think up everything around here. The guy who played Shane on Walking Dead has the nickname "Coon-ass" but he brags about being from North Georgia. Isn't 'coonass' uniquely related to Cajuns? Yes. He's the loader while Shia la whatever is the gunner. Pitt is the commander. The 76mm gun would probably have penetrated the front armor of the Tiger that close and the best shot was probably from the side not the rear, this flick and Kelly's Heroes notwithstanding. It's OK to be behind the turret shooting the M2 .50 BMG at an enemy in front of the tank, but that configuration is not so hot when the tank is surrounded by enemy infantry. Oh, and wouldn't the sniper, so close, have taken the head shot right away? I think so. Finally, I had an uncle in the 10th Armored Division (he fought in Bastogne) and he would tell me stories about losing numerous tanks to German armor. As a child, I had difficulty understanding how we won the war. He credited air power, which was totally missing in this movie (except for the huge bomber formation shown once).

The pickiest I can be is about a tiny detail from the interior of the tank. They have a lot of Nazi medals strung up inside. One of the medals they showed was a Mothers Cross. It is a blue and white, elongated, miniature Maltese cross thing with a central glory thing and a blue and white ribbon. It is very well designed; I might even say beautiful. But it was given to women for having children for the Reich. So it's possible some soldier was keeping his wife's medal for some reason, but the most likely place an American soldier would have obtained one was off a woman and where's the honor, the counting coup, the scalp taking, in that? Just seemed really unlikely to me. The pogues in the back had this medal as a souvenir, not the macho boys on the front. They had collections of men's medals for bravery, Knights Crosses with oak leaves and swords, etc., not some fecundity award. I write this mistake up to an art director's aesthetic taste overwhelming his or her sense of history.

It is very cool that Pitt has picked up an STG 44 and uses it instead of a grease gun (M-3). I have been singing the praises of the first assault rifle for a long time at this site (because it deserves it) and the choice by Pitt shows his weapon savvy. There was a device you could attach to the barrel of the STG which allowed you to shoot around corners. It was developed for tankers to shoot Russians swarming on their tanks. Might of made something of that oddity. It seemed a handful to bring up out of a tight hatch. No problem with that with the M-3.

So this is perhaps too technical a review. I am an avid fan of WWII history. The director's earlier work includes the unrelentingly tense Training Day (he wrote it) and the similar End of Watch (wrote and directed). As I said, it's a good movie. A lot of people are seeing it. If you haven't seen it yet, see it this weekend.


A member of my FB group of [mostly] former military types wrote:

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