Portraying a tough, seasoned Sargent and leader of the tank named, Fury, who began WWII in Africa, "Wardaddy" Collier snuck off regularly to feel the pain war brought to his heart and mind. He only took a minute or so each time, but I was impressed that Director, David Ayer (Training Day and Fast and Furious), brought this painful reflection to his character. Sargent Collier was a proven leader, who was tough as nails and a survivor.
Everybody got a "war name". The youngest recruit to join Fury's team, Norman played by Logan Lerman, was "trained to type 60wpm", not mow down Nazis. He was thrown from the frying pan into the fire, as the young kid only in the Army eight weeks before finding himself replacing a killed Fury gunner. He finally got his war name after we watched him transform from that sweet, idyllic kid into a killing "Machine". He could have been anybody's son nowadays. His transformation was so painful to witness.
Shia LaBeouf played "Bible" Swan. He was a southern boy who was raised with his Bible. He quoted from it often, and prayed with dying soldiers on the field. God was on his side and protected them all. He was the proverbial "Soldier for God". He did a great job with this role. I read in People magazine recently that Mr. LaBeouf has been experiencing emotional and psychological problems of late, so this very emotional role seemed perfect. Either that or it threw him over the edge.
I thought of men I knew who experienced war while watching this film: my father, my grandfather, my son's father and friends, and realized why those men rarely talked about their experiences. I met returning Vietnam solders who were purported to wear necklaces of enemy ears over there, and this movie helped show me how that happens to a person. A seemingly normal person enters the military, and war brings out the animal that lies within. I somehow understood their need to damage nice things; steal, victimize weaker personalities, abuse one another and yell a lot. That animal can get out of control in an environment without any controls. There are regulations, but in this movie everybody was always on their own.
This is a very well acted movie that I am having a hard time shaking off. Nobody needs to become the war machine we call "soldier", but in this movie, soldiers create a bond with one another that is almost enviable. I just wish that bond could once and for all be created around some activity that did not involve killing.
This is definitely a big screen movie. It is intense and fast paced from the get go. One saving grace is the mild interlude in the middle. You'll just have to see it to find out what I'm talking about.