Written & directed by David Ayer, Fury stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal as a US Army tank crew deep inside Nazi territory during the final violent days of World War II. On 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Sony delivers a sparkling 2160p presentation with HDR10, a rumbling and aggressive Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and an hour and a half of new bonus features. Recommended.
It is April 1945
The Allies fight deep in the heart of Nazi Germany, encountering the most fanatical resistance yet.
In desperation Hitler declares total war, mobilizing every man, woman, and child...
David Ayer's Fury is a lot like if Das Boot and Saving Private Ryan had a cinematic love child. Ultra-violent. Claustrophobic. But in the horror and chaos, we find small moments of humanity through a young man named Norman. A young man who has only been in the Army for eight weeks and never trained to drive a tank, but here he is. Learning to drive. Learning how to bond with a tank crew that's been together for three years. Learning to kill.
The war has already consumed Norman's new tank brothers -- robbed them of their humanity and empathy and naiveté -- and they have become fury, which is also the name of their tank. They are broken weapons often outgunned by the enemy and unable to control the random violence. But Norman's new tank brothers are also heroes, battle-hardened warriors who will fight and protect each other with every available breath. They are broken boys searching for human connections.
The question, of course, is whether or not the war will consume Norman in a similar way?
Through Norman's eyes, and under the father-figure guidance of Brad Pitt's Sgt. Wardaddy Collier, we dive into the horrors of tank warfare in a way I've never quite seen before. Fury lacks the elegance and sure-handed pacing of Saving Private Ryan, nor is it poetic like Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, but it is often engrossing thanks to its fantastic performances, white-knuckle action sequences, and the way it juxtaposes moments of calm with moments of calamity. I suppose we could liken it more to Mr. Ayer's Training Day or End of Watch, but Fury lacks those films' tighter structures and lighter moments.
In truth, revisiting Fury can be a chore if you're in the wrong mood -- this is a DARK movie that splatters you with all the blood and gristle until you feel numb. As my colleague, David Krauss, noted in his review of the original Blu-ray, The Horrors of War thematics are covered repeatedly, perhaps even monotonously. And I would argue the pacing feels off at times, starting and stopping and lacking a clear structural objective.
And, yet, I'd also argue there are life and redemption in this darkness.
Norman begins his journey alone and shocked by this terrible world. And then he baths in the horrors, fighting them but also finding darkness in himself. He succumbs to the horror. He even enjoys it a little. In his desolation, he finds a father figure and brothers in his tank crew. He finds a reason to keep fighting.
And then something strange happens. (BEGIN SPOILERS) Norman doesn't survive this story because he kills and maims and shoots; he survives because of a random act of kindness. And then he is called a hero even though he clearly doesn't believe he is one. This is what he will have to live with for the rest of his life. (END SPOILERS)
In this way, I see Norman's journey much like the one taken by many Americans in the early 1940s. They grew up during the war. They saw and possibly did horrible things. They came home heroes, but didn't always feel that way. Not after watching their brothers die. It changed them forever, but there was still hope in many of their hearts.
Fury is a disturbing movie, no doubt. A bleak experience that probably leans a little too hard on shock value and darkness, and probably needs a little more structure to give the story more of a spine. The whole thing is a little raw, for lack of a better word. But it's a movie I have a hard time putting down.
It's no surprise to anyone that WWII wasn't some grand adventure where perfect heroes punched Nazis and saved the world without any emotional fallout... but what I do find surprising and true is the way Fury burns down the lines between heroes and villains, and the way it depicts human survival. There is obliterating darkness, but if we are lucky, we have humanity to pull us from the depths.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Fury debuts on 4K as part of a two-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital combo pack. Inside the black case, you'll find both discs plus instructions for unlocking Fury in 4K via Movies Anywhere.
Originally part of Sony's Mastered in 4K series, Fury takes aim at 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a dramatically improved 2160p HEVC encode featuring HDR10 high dynamic range and a 2.39:1 aspect ratio.
Sony was among the first Hollywood studios to finish their movie and TV productions in 4K and this experience shows. While the Mastered in 4K Blu-ray looked very good for its time (a whole four years ago), watching the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is like getting a new prescription for your glasses or contacts -- everything is clearer, sharper, and more defined. Dropping in HDR10 improves contrast, black levels, and color volume as well, which adds to the video presentation's dimensionality. Where the Blu-ray can feel washed out and flat by comparison, the 4K Blu-ray offers depth and detail and just a little more color.
Is it perfect? Not quite. I noticed the slightest amount of banding in a few places (very minimal, mind you), would have liked to see more detail in the highlights, and it offers less vivid coloring than the most demo-worthy discs available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. I also would love to see what a Dolby Vision or HDR10+ grade could do to improve performance on more entry-level displays -- those with OLEDs or darker LED displays may (<-- keyword) find the picture a tad dark at times.
Still, I entered this review unsure of how much better Fury could look over a mastered in 4K Blu-ray, and the results are striking in a-to-b comparisons. If you're a fan of this movie and own a 4K TV, this upgrade is a no-brainer.
I'm not sure what was in the water, but somehow a whole bunch of movie studios picked May 2018 as the month to release a metric crap-ton of action movies with new Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks that are a collective embarrassment of riches. I've honestly had so much fun over the last few weeks that I'm running out of ways to describe how good everything sounds, so let me be brief.
Fury in 5.1 boasted enveloping music, wide dynamic range, and distinct surround activity in a mix that, in more chaotic moments, was very good, but made it hard to hear the actors. In Dolby Atmos, Fury is guttural and bombastic and wholly immersive (and I don't think I had too much trouble understanding the actors either). The two highlights are overhead object placement and LFE. Every gunshot, explosion, anti-tank round, and rumbling engine packs a concussive, sonic blow, pushing your subwoofer and (if you're like me) towers to glorious lows. And if that weren't exciting enough, now you've got bullets and planes and bombs descending from above as well as all around.
If you're an audio geek with a killer sub and in-ceiling or Dolby Atmos speakers, you're gonna love this new mix. Is it my favorite ever? No, I'd probably rate this a 95-97 out of 100, but since we don't have that option, I'm rounding up to 5/5 stars.
Fury returns to home video with everything previously included (and located) on the Blu-ray -- reviewed HERE -- PLUS another hour and a half of new bonus features found on the 4K Blu-ray itself. They include:
Tiger 131 (5:25)
Heart of Fury (6:36)
Clash of Armor (6:53)
No Guts, No Glory: The Horrors of Combat (28:06)
The Tanks of Fury (46:02)
Fury is a bleak movie about the horrors of tank warfare that features lively performances and visceral, bloody action sequences. It's a grim, raw experience that may lean a little too heavy on shock value, but ultimately one I personally find to be honest and redemptive in nature.
As a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Sony has delivered the goods. The 4K-mastered 2160p picture with HDR10 is ultra sharp with excellent black levels and improved but muted colors. The Dolby Atmos roars with deep, rumbling LFE and aggressive overhead object placement. And there are a ton of bonus features spread across both discs. Fury has always looked and sounded great on home video; now it's even better. Recommended for 4K enthusiasts.