Fury Blu-ray Review

Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman sell this vicious WWII tank epic

A rookie tank operator offers the audience a gruesome opportunity for desensitization in Fury. Eyes are pierced. Legs splinter. Faces are seared. Heads evaporate. Each is more graphic than the last. It’s an ever growing scenario of violence. Eventually, it’s normal.

Fury is the Hollywood “mission” movie which in this case traps the leads inside the belly of a Sherman to run over (literally) Germany’s final Nazi resistance. The tank is total lethality for anyone in its way.

David Ayer’s unsettling directorial style, affixed to Fury the same as his real world police drama End of Watch, lends his war piece a narrowed but ferocious touch. Language is boorish and mammoth action scenes are outwardly explicit. Brad Pitt is not in form from his prior Inglorious Basterds even if the layers of obscenity seem to indicate so.

Fury is a personnel film. Made into a family and bonded to their tank, the squadron of five form their necessary relationship like ill-tempered school children. No one can blame them. The sights – burning bodies, suicide, children hanged – are enough to break anyone. They’re barely sane.

One of them is a devout religious man. Another snickers at the thought. Yet a third has accepted fate, and a fourth is outright delirious. Fury then thrusts much of the feature onto Logan Lerman, playing a sheepish, untrained letter writer who is assigned to this rabid cavalry. The others celebrate their kills; Lerman’s timid Norman has never pulled a trigger.

Thus, Norman is Fury’s viewfinder, an insightful peering into dwindling mental stability and understanding of the German front’s desperate conditions. Battlefield suicides are normal to the Sherman’s crew – Norman is the requisite look of horrified shock.

Special effects these are not, rather authentic museum-quality machines reactivated and staring one another down through their turrets.

While the others (a generous roster including Pitt, Shia LeBouf, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal) are cemented as personalities, Norman is free to engage in a traditional arc. Fury has limited consequence. Tanks are out to stomp scattered and remaining forces rather than any singular threat. Norman’s experience becomes the narrative.

As Norman matures in combat, the dreary, cold, and depressed cinematography plays host to enthralling tank confrontations. Special effects these are not, rather authentic museum-quality machines reactivated and staring one another down through their turrets. The end result is sublime.

But this is not merely an action set-piece. Fury is about people, survival, and reactions. Much is held together by an antagonistic, anxiety-laden breakfast with two captive German women caught in a scuffle between an American crew nearing their breaking limits. Through their seemingly uncontrolled outbursts, there comes understanding from a past reality no one wished to recount. Their back-and-forth is as genuine as any of the action. Fury’s foundation of character is that satisfying.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

His home @ 6:56

Film stock provides Fury’s look, although much of it appears diluted. High frequency information is zapped in medium shots, replaced with a lightly murky appearance. The disc has marginal trouble with smoke and haze (and there is plenty of it), although the lack of definition is unrelated. The look is more in line with post production work.

Much of Fury uses aggressive tactics to de-beautify each shot. Maybe therein explains the fidelity loss. Cinematography is softer than most. Inside the tank’s hull, black crush is extensively employed to keep the sense of the location unfriendly. Color is voided. Everything is plastered with a pale blue; flesh tones never appear. Contrast is dulled by the color timing application, leaving Fury dim if not without obvious purpose.

Featurettes on the disc show the trials of shooting on film for a production such as this. Crew carry camera rigs through shin-deep mud to set up and load the stock. In the end, benefits are barely noticeable. Grain is thin and the look is sacrificed for mood. This is not the wrong decision so much as a curious one.

For what it is, Fury is in constant flux. Detail/limited detail. Pure black/tinted blacks. Grain/zero grain. Each scene, despite sharing the palette and style, can be distinctive. That is appreciated, even if Fury is often necessarily ugly.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Tanks. Tank rounds. What else is needed? Fury has… well, fury in the audio department, ripping the subwoofer with awe-inspiring jolts of LFE. Each shot, each artillery shell, each 50 cal; nothing misses. Going overhead or otherwise passing the camera, engines rumble as if they’re in the room.

Even without the monstrous low-end support, engagement is earned by a full 360 degree soundfield, whipping around effortlessly. Every speaker will fill with something. The whip of gunshots is intense. Fury can also be appreciated for introducing dialog by panning across the soundstage. Scenes are often brought into being by a trailing camera picking on a conversation off screen.

As a side note, a 5.1 mix for such an audio-thick movie is beginning to show age. The additional rears of major 7.1 mixes are becoming the norm. Fury, while absolutely perfect, does show the limitations. That, or home theater enthusiasts are bound to be spoiled by the rising level of quality audio.

Audio ★★★★★ 

Even though these bonuses do not carry the weight of length, they’re fantastic. Sixteen deleted scenes hint at an initially longer film (studio trims maybe?), adding almost an hour in extensions and fully cut moments. It becomes a lot to take in.

Blood Brothers is the first of the featurettes, spending 11-minutes with the cast and real vets as they discuss life inside their tanks. Armored Warriors is a minute longer than the latter, staying with the veterans for their own perspective and war stories. Taming the Beasts charts the difficulty of filming authentic equipment and the rapid expertise of Michael Pena. Director’s Combat Journal lays out the key action scenes piece-by-piece, showing choreography and Ayer’s approach to making things exciting.

Everyone of those is excellently done, unusually honest and free of censorship. R-rated language flies freely. A photo gallery and trailers are mere leftovers.

Extras ★★★★★ 

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.