Brad Pitt leads the charge in this bloody and beautiful World War II action drama
The popular trope 'war is hell' hangs heavily over Fury, a big-budget WWII movie starring Brad Pitt as a tank commander battling the last remnants of the German army during the Spring of 1945. For much of its running time this is a grim, uncomfortable watch, a brooding character study punctuated by shocking moments of violence. Indeed, when the final act arrives, with its more straightforward focus on a David vs Goliath-style siege, you may find yourself breathing a sigh of relief.
Pitt plays Don 'Wardaddy' Collier, a battle-worn, tactically astute sergeant faced with a new addition to the crew of his tank, Fury. The newbie is Norman (played by Logan Lerman), a young, idealistic pencil-pusher rushed to the front. Collier doesn't want Norman anywhere near his team, as he – not unreasonably – thinks he's likely to get them all killed. And Norman, tasked with cleaning up the blood splattered seat left by his predecessor in the bowels of Fury, soon doesn't want to be there either. Over the course of a day, Collier and the rest of his crew take it upon themselves to toughen Norman up. How? By forcing him to face up to the reality that he's there to kill Nazis...
Writer/director David Ayer doesn't pull any punches. Fury is muddy and bloody, and surely pushes the boundaries of its '15' certificate as it sends limbs and heads flying in its pursuit of a realistic simulation of warfare. Yet Pitt and the rest of the cast clearly relish the difficult shooting conditions and harsh subject matter – there's not a performance here that's off-key – and the brilliantly-staged tank battles are thrilling enough to counter some of the uneven pacing. Recommended.
Picture: 'If you’re shooting digital, you’re making videos. Film is magic.' So says director David Ayer in one of this Blu-ray's special features, explaining the decision to shoot Fury on 35mm film, with G Series anamorphic lenses.
And this 1080p, AVC-encoded image is certainly filmic. Sure, there's grain, but it's even and in no way intrusive. Watched on a 4K display, the level of detail is, at times, extraordinary – Wardaddy's face is a readable map of nicks and scars, the tanks real enough to make you want to reach out and touch.
Tonally, Fury is all greens, browns and greys, and the few instances of primary colours (which mainly come during the scenes in a liberated German town) don't exactly pop off the screen. But don't mistake this muted palette for dullness – it's a gorgeous-looking film.
Blacks are deep and solid. At times, particularly during the opening sequence and the final night-time scenes, there are instances where dark areas of the picture become impenetrable, but it's a minor niggle. Equally, clarity is at its highest when daylight bathes the image. When the Fury crew are surrounded by billowing smoke and the orange glow of raging fires in darkness, details become harder to discern.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: Fury rumbles onto Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that offers a perfect balance between brutal bombast and elegant refinement. Subtleties in the 5.1-channel sound design work brilliantly to flesh out the onscreen environments – the confines of the eponymous tank, for instance, are brought home by the metallic echo of the crew's angry bickering, while scenes at the battalion camp resonate with realistic, ambient noise.
Naturally, the surround mix is at its most impressive when the shells start flying – Fury's 76mm gun disgorges its load with a ferocious weight. Audio placement is exemplary, with bullets cutting a path through your viewing room and hitting their mark with percussive panache. The film's climactic firefight is wonderfully staged, with audio cues helping your keep abreast of the action.
Also worthy of note is the original score by Gravity alumni Steven Price. A surprisingly modern effort for a period piece, its mixes traditional orchestral instrumentation with some deep synthetic bass notes and floaty choral work. And it pours out of the speaker array with utmost fidelity.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: There's a quartet of featurettes in the Special Features menu, although the focus is quite narrow. Pick of the bunch is Taming The Beasts..., a 12-minute look at the tanks used for the shoot, including the world's only working Tiger. Also worth a watch is Director's Combat Journal, a 17-minute featurette focusing on the filming challenges faced by David Ayer to. He proves very informative, so it's a shame there's no chat-track.
The other two features are an 11-minute look at the main cast and a 12-minute piece about the surviving WWII tank veterans who liaised with the cast and production team. There are also 16 deleted/extended scenes and a photo gallery.
Extras rating: 3/5
We say: Grim and gung-ho in equal measure, this tank warfare flick is a thrilling AV experience
Fury, Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £25 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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