Plot:April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened Army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
I’m going to keep this as short as I possibly can, because the gushing will be unbearable and irritating for you all at some stage. This movie is AMAZING. For over two hours you are nailed to your seat and drawn into WWII at a stage where the war isn’t quite done yet, and the men on the ground are still battling nonstop with the Nazis, especially aiming to shoot the SS soldiers. Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and his crew Boyd Shawn (Shia LaBeouf), Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal) and Trini Garcia (Michael Pena) are dealing with the loss of one of their team when they are given Norman (Logan Lerman), a clerk who has been drafted as an assistant driver. Norman is dragged into the warfare he never thought he would enter, and in time he starts seeing Wardaddy not as a monster but someone who takes the task of keeping his men alive very seriously. Facing unspeakable horrors together, Norman quickly finds his guts and becomes part of the team.
The directing is sharp, clear and brutal. It shows how merciless the war was – children hanged for not fighting for Hitler, bodies being driven in by trucks piled on top of each other, men burning alive, starvation and innocent people dying for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is thus more than your average war movie addressing the lives of the brave soldiers (I actually always see that as War Propaganda) – this movie takes you to ground level and reminds you of what the men of the previous generation went through.
The relationship between the characters is intense and intricately portrayed. I couldn’t help but speculate on the intensity of the relationships formed between those four men who have been in the inside of a tank together for three years. At the start of the movie they don’t seem all that close, but the reason is obvious: they are dealing with the death of one of their own. As the movie progresses the sense of brotherhood is really strong and the knowledge that these men are cemented together despite their vastly different characteristics.
The performances are all top notch, but most notably I would have to say Brat Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf stood out above the rest. Brad Pitt just stunned me by this gut wrenching performance and the layers he added to the character. The grief on his face every time he witnessed more death was excruciating. The battle weary way he carried himself whilst still being the leader was very significant to the success of his role.
Shia LaBeouf… I am not the world’s biggest fan to his personal life because he wants attention so bad. However, in roles like this and Lawless he reminds me how capable he is as an actor. Boyd “Bible” Shawn was such a sweet man and the horrors of the war reflected so clearly in him. I think that he managed to hold onto his religion all the time during the war was powerful, as I think most men just dump it along the way because they simply see too much to still believe in a higher power.
Logan Lerman had me thinking all the time “What an amazing kid”. That said, he is only two years younger than I am but he seems much younger than the rest of the war weary team members. I felt such sympathy with his character and his struggle to adjust. It’s obvious that he wasn’t planning in being part of the fighting in the war and is by nature a kind person who would rather spare human lives. He is initially treated very roughly by Wardaddy but the reason why makes sense – he needs to toughen up if the others want to survive.
I’ll just quickly mention that I also really enjoyed Michael Pena and Grady Travis as the remaining two main characters, and really enjoyed seeing faces like Jim Parrack and Scott Eastwood in here.
The story flows well and keeps a good pace – I really couldn’t detect any dip in the story. The ending is magnificent and so suspenseful – I was cringing and yelling and filled with admiration for our boys.
I’m sure it is very obvious that I really enjoyed this film and I am exceptionally glad it was on my Blindspot list! HIGHLY recommended, although sensitive viewers should probably steer clear.