There's something familiar about the sight of Brad Pitt in military uniform, with a southern accent, commanding a ragtag group of Allied soldiers deep in enemy territory in WW2. But, in contrast to his turn as Lieutenant Aldo Raine in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009), this time he's playing it dead straight.
The first trailer for Fury shows Pitt as the commander of a Sherman tank in Germany on the eve of D-Day. Wardaddy, as he is called, knows the war is almost over, but there's still work to do. "It will end, soon, but before it does a lot more people gotta die," he tells his exhausted crew.
Just for good measure, he adds this little epithet: "Deals are peaceful, history is violent."
The film is written and directed by David Ayer, best known as the writer of the Denzel Washington hit Training Day (2001). Ayer's not-quite-so-honourable mentions include co-writing the first film in the long-running Fast and Furious franchise, and writing and directing the recent Arnold Schwarzenegger drug-police thriller Sabotage.
Hopes are high for Fury, but Ayer, a former submariner in the US Navy, unintentionally drew attention to his production last year with a PR flub of mammoth proportions.
Shooting had begun in rural Hertfordshire, England, in late September 2013, with the production based at Pinewood Studios in London. But controversy erupted when the crew filmed a scene on Remembrance Day, November 11, in which extras dressed in Nazi uniforms tramped through the English countryside.
The Daily Mirror claimed the production had been asked in advance to suspend filming on the day as a mark of respect, but had declined. In response to outrage from locals, Ayer was forced to issue "heartfelt apologies for any disrespect caused".
There were echoes in that of his 2006 apology for "distorting" history in his debut screenplay, U-571, a 2000 film in which US submariners were given credit for capturing the Enigma code used by German U-boat crew.The code was, in fact, captured by the British.
"It was a distortion ... a mercenary decision to create this parallel history in order to drive the movie for an American audience," he told BBC radio.
The cynical might wonder if Fury is going to present another parallel history in which one American tank crew saves Europe from the Nazis, but this time around Ayer's concerns seem to be more intimate.
"They're exhausted, they're tired, they're grief-stricken, they're combat-fatigued," the writer-director says in a recently released behind-the-scenes clip for the film. "It's really about a family under incredible stress."
- Sydney Morning Herald