A man's personality is dramatically changed after surviving a major airline crash.
Living without fear isn’t really living an authentic life, but it’s quite a good experiment. So goes the main thrust of Peter Weir’s mature, thought-provoking and downright odd story of Max (Bridges) and Carla (the Oscar-nominated Perez), survivors of a plane crash and in their own ways scarred by it. Carla is bitter, twisted and pining for her one-year-old who perished in the conflagration. Max is elated, metaphysically inclined, and newly empowered by his lack of fear after having stared right into the eye-sockets of the Big D and survived. Strangers before the crash, their lives intertwine as they each come to terms with what happened. Lionised by the media and by the passengers he led to safety, Max is having none of it, choosing instead to test the limits of his fearlessness by standing atop high buildings, refusing to lie to get more insurance money, ending his marriage if necessary, and putting his life in danger to help others, notably Carla. He is, throughout, a pain in the arse, refusing to let anyone in to his little world, patronising those who’ve never had a near-death experience and living life utterly on his own terms. This unsympathetic character could be one of the reasons why Fearless was such a huge box office flop — others may include the large amounts of wailing and arguing involved, the reasonably complex (though occasionally sixth-form) metaphysical concepts, the sprinkling of thoughtful philosophy, and the lack of a decent car chase. For those happy to engage in such things, however, Fearless is a bravely adult film, misfiring in places with its cod psychology and occasionally dropping the philosophical ball, but having a genuine and largely successful crack at adapting a literate, intelligent novel (by Rafael Yglesias) into a literate, intelligent film. And the acting’s brilliant, too.
A brilliant, daring film, starring actors at the very top of their game.