If you think Brad Pitt is the star of this movie, you are wrong. While the entire cast is phenomenal, the film is carried heavily by the lesser known young actor Logan Lerman. You may know him as Percy Jackson, or Christian Bale’s son in 3:10 to Yuma, or the troubled Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If none of those ring a bell (shame on you for not having seen 3:10 to Yuma) you will most certainly be hearing more about him after this film opens this weekend. I believe this is the role that will make Logan Lerman a household name. Not only does he have a face to melts hearts, his performance made me go all maternal. I wanted to jump in that damn screen, wipe away his tears, give him a big bear hug, and bake him cookies.
Don’t get me wrong, Brad Pitt is OUTSTANDING in this movie, but he scared the living daylights out of me. It was a bit jarring. None of the characters in this film are particularly likeable. This is a very unsentimental film. One of the things I loved about the story is that it makes you wonder….were these guys ever likeable? Logan Lerman’s character ‘Norman’ is an excellent representation of the change that occurs to a man during war. Perhaps Brad Pitt, Shia Labeouf, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal’s characters were once innocent souls like Norman, and it was the war that brought out the evil and “fury” within them. Or perhaps not. There is an excellent line in the beginning of the film when Brad Pitt is asked how his men have survived for so long, to which he responds “the devil watches over his own.”
Another strong performance in this film comes from Shia Labeouf, who plays a quiet yet preachy soldier appropriately referred to as ‘Bible.’ I have said it before and I’ll say it again. This guy deserves far more credit as an actor than he has received. He really is excellent. While he doesn’t have much screen time, there is a scene in particular that is very memorable in which he delivers a verse from the bible. I think I held my breath the entire time he spoke. Seriously….I think all these guys just need a hug, except Jon Bernthal’s character (more commonly known as ‘Shane’ from The Walking Dead). This guy is probably the biggest sweetheart you’ll ever meet, but he always plays a douche bag. This is because he does it well. I always want to punch him in the face. So….good job man.
The strength of the film is not only in the performances. The cinematography, costume design, and special effects are stunning. You know that sound category in the Oscars that no one ever really pays attention to? This film is definitely getting a nomination for that. Another highlight is the film’s musical score composed by Steven Price. I am one of those strange people who listens to movie soundtracks on a regular basis and I have been waiting for a new one to come my way that really sticks out. Thank you Steven Price. It perfectly sets the tone for the film as well. Unsettling. Alarming. Mournful. Epic.
I will warn you however that this film is disturbingly violent. There are things I had never seen before in war films. Brad Pitt describes it perfectly in another extremely quotable line, “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.” Don’t let that stop you though. This is an excellent war film. Similar to Saving Private Ryan or Letters from Iwo Jima. You’ll need a drink afterward (maybe two), but this is one of those film’s you’ll be adding to your movie marathon list on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Rarely does it slow down, except for a dinner scene similar to that from Inglourious Basterds, that makes that one seem like a friendly gathering.
My final say: GO SEE IT! (Maybe have a shot of vodka first)