Film on DVD - Brad Pitt excels in Fury

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 January, 2015, 10:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 January, 2015, 10:32pm

Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal
Director: David Ayer

Brad Pitt's career continues to throw up surprises. In this second world war action flick, it's not the role that impresses so much as the way he handles it with grace and style.

As the grim-faced commander of an American tank who must rally his weary troops for a mission that promises only certain death, Pitt takes on a character that the great John Wayne might have tackled with minimum effort, waltzing through the battle scenes feeling comfortable that his audience knew what to expect.

But Pitt digs much deeper, giving flashes of a man driven by his dedication to duty but also battling the reality of the situation in which he finds himself. And to think that early in his career the actor was so often dismissed as a pretty face - and not much else.

Director David Ayer showed with his screenplay for 2001's Training Day (directed by Antoine Fuqua) that he can build tension to the edge of breaking point, while allowing his stars to explore the outer reaches of their characters' conditions. Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his role as a cop playing both sides of the law in that production and Ayer allows Pitt similar freedoms here. His star doesn't let him down.

The film sticks to war genre traditions and there are no surprises in terms of characterisation outside Pitt's Sergeant Collier - we're given stock characters such as the blood-thirsty maniac and the weakling who's out of his depth, among others - but it comes as a surprise just what a nerve-wracking exercise the film evolves into.

The tank - like the submarine in Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (1981) - is both shelter and potential coffin for the troops who fight from inside it; the cameras peek in through the shadows and bright flashes of light to reveal the terror these soldiers unleash and find themselves facing.

Pitt's battle-hardened soldier remains in control - as does the actor, who seems to grow in stature with each new role he tackles.

Extras: deleted and extended scenes; Blood Brothers; Director's Combat Journal; Armored Warriors: The Real Men Inside the Shermans; Taming the Beast: How to Drive, Fire & Shoot Inside a 30-Ton Tank featurettes; previews.