This is a review of the movie "Fury" that I posted on a site, mainly made up of non-veteran reenactors of the 30th Division:
I saw the movie last night in Sanford with my daughters, a current paratrooper and the son of my friend, the 82nd CSM (Puck for those on ArmyRanger.com). What was interesting is when we got there at the theater, in Sanford, there was a formation of Army guys in ACUs in the parking lot. This is not unusual in the Fort Bragg area. Whenever a really good military movie comes out, units will go, as a unit, and watch it and then do a class on it the next day. I walked around the formation, and there was a HUMV on one side, but a WWII Jeep on the other. I did a detour to check out the jeep, but then saw that it was assigned to the 30th Division. I then checked out the shoulder patches of the guys in formation and they are also the 30th. I got a chuckle out of that. Small world.
The audience seemed to be made up of me, with my crew of under 21 kids (who all wanted to see this and did not have to be dragged along) and folks who were over 60. This seemed a shame, but it is Saturday night. What young person is going to hang out in a movie theater on Saturday night at 7:00?
Now... I am going to try to do this review without giving away spoilers. The story in a nutshell is an extremely veteran tank company that is now down to four tanks. One of the four Shermans has a gun that really has some “oompf” in it, I think the 76mm gun, and the rest have the smaller 73mm guns. The tank is the star so the one with the big gun goes to the lead star/tank. These guys are veterans and have a veteran mindset. For those who have not seen combat, or who never have been in the military, there are different phases in a soldier’s life in combat. In the beginning we tend to look at the world as black and white. We ask permission to fire. There is a scene in “Black Hawk Down” where a Ranger yells out to his battalion commander “Sir, they are shooting at us! What do we do?” And the battalion commander yells back “Shoot back!” We hesitate. We take lots of prisoners because the enemy is just like us, but only in a different uniform. I have been one of these soldiers and asked for permission to shoot the enemy that I saw about to ambush another company. I was worried about the rules of engagement. Soldiers are not just crazed killing machines, they are controlled killing machines.
Then the change happens. You don’t ask for permission to fire, because you know when you have to do it. You don’t plan on taking any prisoners if that guy even looks like he has a weapon or intent. You turn into a very fine tuned killing machine. There was a guy who works behind the fence, who carried a tomahawk into the war. In the age of predator drones and long range laser guided munitions... why a tomahawk? He said that the muslims sleep on rooftops at night, because it is too hot to sleep in the buildings. So they would go up on the roof and hit them right behind the ear with the spike on the tomahawk. Dead. Instantly. Quietly. However they would leave one of the guys alive and then slip away into the night. That one guy would spread the word and the rest would be terrified. It is one thing to strap a bomb on yourself and die for the issued 73 virgins, but to die while sleeping, and never even see the enemy... that is terrifying. However that man had become one of the killing machines. He is the Terminator. If you see enough combat, war will turn you into this. No remorse. No second thoughts. The crew of “Fury” are all veteran killing machines.
Then into their lives comes a new fresh faced teenager, who has squeeky clean morals and standards and who is not even trained to fight. He is a clerk/typist (I don’t know why Hollywood likes to do this one again... remember, the voice of conscience, who gets some of his guys killed in Saving Private Ryan was a clerk/typist). I also chuckled at the 2nd Lieutenant who looks all of 12 years old, with a cracking voice, trying to order around the killing machine veterans... like they actually care what he thinks.
Someone on another list asked me if I thought this movie was historically accurate. I'm going to say yes, it is historically accurate. Now in every movie there are always some of the small things that are wrong... for instance some of the purists out there criticized "Saving Private Ryan" because the M1 carbines had a post WW2 bayonet lug on it (no... seriously). However I look at a historical movie in two ways.
One... does it portray the time period as accurately as possible without taking away from the story? Movies that fail horribly with this are movies such as "The Patriot" or even documentaries such as “World Wars”.
Two... does it tell a good story? I can forgive being historically inaccurate, to a certain degree, if it is a good story. The 1980s "Last of the Mohicans" or even "Saving Private Ryan" fit this bill. This story is a great story. The movie should be subtitled "The Medal of Honor Tank". Without giving away the story, if this was real, then at least half the crew would have received that medal while the rest would have Silver Stars.
The tank battle scenes are the most outstanding I have ever seen. No Hollywood huge explosions and fireballs. In my life I have seen tanks hit. I have stood on a tank battlefield with hundreds of dead vehicles and have seen the effects of what real ordnance can do to an armored vehicle. Hell, I even hid underneath a Soviet tank as death and destruction rained down around me (for ArmyRanger.com - self induced... we blew up an Iraqi T-55 with 600 pounds of Chinese C4, to get rid of the tank and to get rid of the C4. In hindsight, not so good of an idea).
Tanks usually do one of three things when they receive a killing blow. They blow up into a billion pieces because you get that one luck shot right into the magazine (very rare)... they have the turret blown sky high while the rest of the tank is still there... or they look like they were never hit, except for one hole in the armor. This movie portrays that. The duel with the Tiger tank had me yelling at the screen (at least this is what my daughters told me)... TURN! TURN! FIRE! NOW! NOW!
As usual, the special effects have hit a new high. All you veterans out there... prepare to cringe and jerk left and right in your seat a bit. What I do like about the movie making style is it is not a recreation of Saving Private Ryan. No handheld cameras. It is regular cinematography. The CGI is held to a minimum, so most of what you see is actual, on the ground, special effects. The tracers will have you ducking in your seat and the tank rounds flying through the air look like they do in real life... ditto for the explosions. For the ability to make the movie, they had to make the interior of the tank larger. I figure there was no way to do it any other way and actually be able to film a movie inside there. I’ve been in real Shermans and they are a bit tight, but so are M60s and M1s. A tank is not a basketball gymnasium.
As I was writing this I was trying to google what the main guns were on a Sherman and I came across a website, full of... most likely... pimply faced basement dwellers, who criticized the movie to no end. They most likely watched the movie by accident and thought it was actually “Furry” a movie about dressing up in animal suits and doing freaky things. One of the criticisms was that the Germans could not shoot straight and no one could hit the tanks. Not true, which if you watch the movie, you know what I mean. But also, realize that this movie takes place in April of 1945. The war will end for the Germans in one more month. In scenes where they do take POWs, the enemy soldiers are small children and old men... just like real life. So most the Germans we were facing were not the battle hardened veterans of Stalingrad or El Alamein. Mainly because most of the German veterans of Stalingrad or El Alamein were left in Stalingrad, or El Alamein. What is left is what you have. The inexperienced and untrained Germans tend not to shoot too well.
Another critique the armchair generals made was that the tanks would be hit by Tiger rounds or panzerfausts and not be destroyed. Amazingly enough, armor works sometimes. In Grenada we were attacked by three BTR-60s. These are not tanks and they are not top of the line armor, but when we hit them with LAWs, the missiles would hit them and do nothing, or hit them at an angle and ricochet up into the sky. A 90mm recoilless rifle finally did something, but even it did not destroy the vehicle. So even something like a powerful Tiger tank round, if hit at an angle, will bounce off.
As for the panzerfaust... the panzerfaust is a shaped charge warhead. This means when it hits it will make a little hole in the armor. In theory that little hole will then spray molten metal all over the inside of the vehicle, detonating the tank’s ammunition. This is theory. Not fact. In reality that shape charge will blow a hole into a tank, which may go into a space where there is nothing to blow up, or where there is something there to absorb the blast, such as a human body. In the actual Battle of Mogadishu our Rangers had RPGs fired at them repeatedly, striking their HUMVs. These were not armored, since armored HUMVs were a thing of the future. In one HUMV an RPG struck the driver’s door. It did not kill everyone inside and it didn’t even kill the driver, though he was wounded.
Another thing about Nazi equipment... it was made by slave labor. So it didn’t always work. The German soldier may also be totally unfamiliar with the weapon since they are untrained. My father had an RPG go through the slot in his bunker in Vietnam and it did not explode because they NVA forgot to take off the cap on the end. Operator error that ensured there was no explosion, though my father was wounded by the fragments from the shattered RPG bouncing off the walls. So ignore the comments of those basement dwellers.
One more thing I noticed is the prevalence of the horse. The movie opens on a horse. There is a traumatic story about horses in combat and the final scenes have a horse. I think the director was giving a nod to the world of the horse finally going away. Most folks think horses were no longer used after WWI, but the horse was the main logistics delivery system for the German army throughout most of the war.
I did not see the 30th Division in the movie, though I looked hard for them. The infantry support for the tanks were not wearing any patches that I could identify.
This movie is intense, and it has a “grip your seat” final battle that will have some of you yelling at the screen too. I highly recommend it.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85