Mar 022015
 
Title: Fury
Genre: War
Starring: Brad Pitt,
Logan Lerman,
Shia LaBeouf,
Jon Bernthal,
Michael Pena.
Certificate: US: R
UK: 15
Picture: 1080p
2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English,
Arabic,
Danish
Dutch,
Finnish,
French. etc.
Runtime: 2 Hours 14 mins
Extras: Featurettes,
Deleted Scenes,
Interviews,
Making Of,
Photo Gallery
Studio: Sony
Release Date: USA: January 27 2015
UK: February 23 2014
See If You Like: Saving Private Ryan,
Band of Brothers,
The Pacific

Coming from Training Day writer/End of Watch director David Ayer, Fury is a bleakly brilliant World War 2 movie following a downtrodden US tank crew through their part in the final push through Germany, and comes to cinemas as not only a sure-fire awards contender, but with all the promise of being the next Saving Private Ryan.

While it may not fully capture the emotions, ethical quandaries, and sheer shock value which came from a first viewing of Saving Private Ryan (a movie which undeniably changed the landscape, and set the benchmark, for every single WWII movie/TV show to follow), Fury is also an undeniably brilliant movie, and one which succeeds in just about everything it tries to accomplish.

Starring Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds/World War Z) as world-weary tank commander Wardaddy, and Michael Pena (End of Watch), Jon Bernthal (The Wolf Of Wall Street/The Walking Dead), and Shia LaBeouf (Lawless) as the three long-standing members of Wardaddy’s crew, Fury follows the journey undertaken by the newest addition to the crew; assistant driver Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief); as he goes from clueless and ethic-filled newbie to grizzled soldier (a transformation which is well delivered and believable, though doesn’t feel wholly realised upon Fury’s conclusion), as the tank rolls ever closer to Berlin.

Pacing is perfect, as aside from one brief pitstop after conquering a small town, the film rolls along with slow yet continuous momentum (mirroring the tanks it features so prominently), trudging ever closer to the inevitable siege/showdown which forms the crux of the movie’s action; the nigh-on impossible defence of a crucial crossroads, which will see the lone tank (stranded, thanks to busted tracks) and its crew attempting to halt the advance of over 300, heavily armed, German SS troops.

Direction and cinematography are also excellent, and Fury is not only framed brilliantly throughout but filled with impressive performances bolstered by a script which delivers superb characterisation (even if said characters can appear somewhat cliched); Pitt is fantastic, charismatic, and exceptionally powerful in his presence-filled performance, as he epitomises the father-figure/battle-hardened leader his men wouldn’t hesitate to follow to death or glory. He’s strong, he’s got a clear goal, and has a backstory which thankfully isn’t fully diverged but leaves some mystery to his character and shows through in glimpses of humanity, yet at the same time he’s no Tom Hanks from Ryan; Pitt can be a nasty son-of-a-bitch, and knows not only what men can do, but what needs to be done in order to win the war, and has no qualms about killing whatsoever.

Bernthal’s character is a touch too far in the same direction; being compared in the film to a wild animal, he’s a truly uneducated hick who puts on the hard-man persona, and seems to have had almost all traces of humanity beaten out of him during his time in the war (yet Jon plays his rather loathsome character to tense perfection); Shia LaBeouf (a rather reprehensible actor at the best of times) is acceptable as the religious member of the group, Michael Pena is surprisingly likeable, and delivers a solid showing, as the most believable member of the group and the standard soldier who’s there to do his job, takes small pleasures where he can, yet is also somewhat world-weary, beaten-down, and accepts his mission as a killer, and Logan Lerman is completely believable as the greenhorn who simply doesn’t belong with such a hardened crew, yet becomes infinitely affected by the things he has to see and do during the course of the war.

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Fury’s action sequences are great as well, as during their journey towards the infamous crossroads battle, and the quieter, character-building, moments in between, the crew encounter resistance at several points, and each encounter not only feels different (from a close-quarters town assault, to infantry rescue, tank battle, and eventual siege), but effectively amps-up the tension. One tank battle in particular (where three US tanks take on a far superior German Tiger) is amazingly tense, realistic, and filled with dread.

Though the heavy use of tracer rounds can be a little distracting at times; a sad fact as the use of tracer rounds is actually completely realistic but simply not seen in many WWII films, and so becomes somewhat reminiscent of a Star Wars laser battle (particularly as the US and German armies helpfully use red and green tracers respectively); there are one or two instances of editing imperfection, a feeling that the German battalion attempting to take the crossroads are far and a way less effective than they should’ve been (following the initial surprise attack of the tank members, surely the Pitt-crew should’ve been easy pickings?), and a sense that Fury doesn’t really bring anything new to the table; it’s powerful, it’s brilliant, and exceptionally tense in places, but lacks the moral questions presented by Saving Private Ryan, and the game-changing nature of Spielberg’s epic.

That said, Fury doing away with hope is actually a fantastic move; it doesn’t gloss over the horrors of war, nor question the morality of anything; these soldiers are there to do a job. It’s gruesome, it’s horrible, and it’s guaranteed to change even the most green and ethically sound men who experience it (something brilliantly realised with Norman’s journey). While there’s an undeniable beauty to some of the camerawork, it also doesn’t paint war as anything but dirty, and horrific, and does a fantastic job of capturing the claustrophobic nature of the inside of a WWII tank. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely powerful, supremely realistic, and a true must watch; bleak but brilliant, Fury is the best World War II movie for 15 years.

Brad Pitt;Logan Lerman

Picture:

Being captured on film, and presented via a ‘Mastered in 4K’ transfer, Fury was always going to look good, but this 1080p transfer goes above and beyond what you’d expect. Fine detail is exceptionally strong, textures are excellently represented, and although the colour palette is generally pretty drab it’s consistently natural and lifelike, just like the unwavering fleshtones. There’s a slight hint of film-like grain (an accent rather than a hinderance), superb black levels, and no visible defects such as aliasing, or compression artifacts, visible whatsoever; meaning Fury comes to Blu-ray with a near flawless transfer.

Audio:

Likewise the 51. DTS-HD Master Audio track awarded to the Fury Blu-ray is exceptionally strong; delivering a never ending supply of realistic ambient sounds amidst the sounds of war (including distant gunfire and explosions). With unflappable clarity throughout, robust LFE, precise transitions, pans, and full use of each and every speaker (the rear channels never get a rest here) which provides a cacophony of clattering noises in order to make the battle sequences (and entire film) both extremely realistic, and immensely enveloping, whilst never drowning out the consistently stable dialogue. Your new reference quality audio disc.

Brad Pitt;Shia LaBeouf;Logan Lerman;Michael Pena;Jon Bernthal

Extras:

Fury also fails to disappoint in terms of its special features, coming to Blu-ray with over 50 minutes of deleted and extended scenes (containing some real gems; one of which, a Good Film Guide exclusive, can be seen above); a feature entitled Director’s Combat Journal (a worthwhile examination of David Ayer’s process, the challenges on set, authenticity, characterisation, and editing); a photo gallery; featurette exploring the film’s search for authenticity; interviews with real-life veterans discussing their time in World War II; and a look at using real-life World War II tanks (including the only working German Tiger tank in the world) for production. All combining to make an extensive, worthwhile, and thoughtful examination of not only the filming process and those involved with it, but the history behind the film, and its realism; enough to delight any fan.

The Bottom Line:

Coming to Blu-ray with a near flawless video transfer, reference quality audio, and a solid collection of worthwhile and informative special features, Fury is a great all-round Blu-ray package and as it’s all furthering a film with a well-told, tense, and rolling story which has excellent direction, amazing production values, superb cinematography, and great acting from all principal stars, there really is no reason not to buy Fury on Blu-ray. Bleak but brilliant, it’s the best World War II movie since Saving Private Ryan, has thankfully been given a superb Blu-ray release, and now makes for just as essential an addition to any collection.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.