Entertainment » Movies

Last Flag Flying

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 9, 2018
Last Flag Flying

Three of the finest actors working today, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne, come together for "Last Flag Flying," an unofficial sequel to the renowned 1973 film "The Last Detail." Influential director Richard Linklater works with Darryl Ponicsan to adapt his novel, which explores the disenchanting aspects of the nation's military.

Director Hal Ashby and screenwriter Robert Towne's "The Last Detail" is known for its earthy language and its fine acting. (Lead actor Jack Nicholson was nominated for several acting awards, and at one point considered it his "best role.") It involves a young sailor grossly penalized for a petty crime and the shore patrolmen assigned to escort him to Naval prison. Along the way they recognize and rebel against the unfairness of the system. It's a powerful statement about the futility of the Vietnam War and the powerlessness of the common man when pitted against a senseless bureaucracy.

Another road trip movie, "Last Flag Flying" is the story of three Vietnam veterans with similar names and backgrounds in 2003. This time a former Navy Corp medic, Larry "Doc" Shepherd's (Carell), retrieves the body of his son, who has been killed in the Iraq War. He asks his former brothers in arms, Sal Nealon (Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Fishburne), to accompany him.

Doc himself did time in a Naval prison for a military infringement, but all three men were guilty of the crime. Still, the medic bears his friends no ill will for his having become the scapegoat. He is, however, shocked to learn that the military wasn't upfront about the way his son died.

Deciding not to bury his boy in Arlington National Cemetery, Doc personally transports the body to his hometown in New Hampshire. Along the way, the three former servicemen discuss the efficacy of the nation's government and the military that has been their whole lives.

Though it has the same rough language as "The Last Detail," this film doesn't have the natural lighting or raw outrage of its predecessor. Instead, it is a mellower movie about mellowed men, people who have grown up and seen a lot more of life. It does, however, have some remarkable acting, especially from Carell, whose goofy, yet heartbreaking, understatement is a sight to behold.

Like many of Linklater's movies, "Last Flag Flying" is dialogue heavy and loosely structured. Characters talk about issues more than they actually face them directly. But if you're prepared for that, it also offers quality humor and genuine emotion.

In addition to the movie, this Blu-ray disc offers two featurettes, deleted scenes, and outtakes.

"Last Flag Flying"


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