Genre Grandeur – Last Flag Flying (2017) – Keith Loves Film


For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Road Trip Movies, here’s a review of Last Flag Flying (2017) by Keith of Keith Loves Movies

Thanks again to Simon of Moustache Movie News  for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Michael Eddy and it is Hitchockian Films.

Hitchcock films by the master himself and the best “Hitchcock films” not directed by Hitchcock.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of January by sending them to hitchcockianmike@movierob.net

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Mike!

Let’s see what Keith thought of this movie:

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For as long as there have been films, there have been road trip films. While the trailers make it look like a road trip film but it’s much more than that. This film either succeeds or fails based on the relationship between the three leads. In this case, they are the best part of the film by far. The fact that they were very fun to watch together made up for the story lacking some depth in approaching the issues it presents.

The story was about three, over the hill Vietnam war veterans Larry ‘Doc’ Shepherd (Carell), Sal Nealon (Cranston), and Richard Mueller (Fishburne) who reunite after 30 years to help bury Shepherd’s son, a marine killed in the Iraq War. There were some road trip elements, watching the three rekindle their friendship while they reminisced about their time in the war. Their time affected each in different ways, but the film could have explored this angle a little more than it did as it only touched the surface.

Shepherd didn’t want to bury his son at Arlington Cemetery, the common destination for most fallen soldiers, but rather near his home in New Hampshire. Not being buried at Arlington was unusual though their conflict with the establishment was also something that the film could have explored a little more than it did. Through this, the three met a young marine who served with Shepherd’s son named Charlie Washington (J. Quinton Johnson). The exchanges between Washington and the other three were fun to watch as we learned how things have changed since they were Marines which of course came with some old people moments.

To balance out the film’s darker subject matter, the film introduces some comedy either through Nealon’s lack of a filter or some lighter moments between the three. This worked for the most part, but this perhaps came at the expense of the tone and the depth of the subject matter. This wasn’t as much of a negative, however, because the three were so fun to watch together. Although Nealon and Mueller were shallow characters compared to Shepherd, they still served their purpose as the story was more about Shepherd anyway.

As mentioned, the acting was the best part of the film by far because of the performances of the three leads and their great chemistry, especially Carell who provides his best performance here as Shepherd. Most viewers are used to seeing him in comedies, so this role will be a departure as  a grieving father, providing a subdued yet emotionally powerful performance. Cranston had some funny lines as the no “F” giving Nealon and Fishburne had a slightly more challenging role as the reformed pastor Mueller, balancing his past and his present.

Overall, this was a is a terrific ensemble drama that gets away with a lack of depth story wise thanks to its excellent performances from its three leads including a career best from Steve Carell.

Score: 8.5/10

2 thoughts on “Genre Grandeur – Last Flag Flying (2017) – Keith Loves Film

  1. Pingback: Genre Grandeur December Finale – Paul (2011) – Moustache Movie News |

  2. Disagree that it was a “career best” from Carrell. Probably wouldn’t make my Top 5. I thought his character was the weak link in the chain. Granted, it’s his story that sets the ball rolling and to which all the action springs from – but once it’s set up with his gathering his 2 Nam buddies together – he fades into the background and thee other 2 step up to shine. That being said, as much as I liked Cranston’s “Sal” (and Fishburne’s “preacher” even more) – he paled by comparison to the character which was the original basis for him – Jack Nicholson’s Billy”Badass” Buddusky from The Last Detail. This film began as a planned sequel to that movie. A buddy of mine – one of the Executive Producers on Last Flag – approached Daryl Ponicsan – who wrote the original book and screenplay – with the idea of doing a sequel – which he would publish. I believe that Jack’s character in the novel was the one who lost his son in Iraq. the book was published (since gone out of print) and Nicholson signed on to do the movie. Morgan Freeman was set to play “Preacher” (replacing the actor form the original, Otis Young, who died years ago) as they had never worked together before. It was going to be a co-production between Fox and Paramount. But Jack didn’t approve of a director choice by thee studios and dropped out. Freeman followed (they ended up doing The Bucket List together). Years passed – Richard Linklatter signed on – Amazon came aboard to finance (at 20% of the original proposed budget) and rewriting was done to alter the characters and sever any connection to The Last Detail.

    I liked the start, but it was overly talky. Almost could’ve been a stage play. Random scenes popping in and out to flesh out what was a razor thin plotline/story. Disillusioned father, lied to by thee military about how his son died, doesn’t want to bury him at Arlington but at home. It meanders it’s way there – taking it’s time. None of thee 3 characters are much different by the time they get there – either by comparison to the soldiers they were or thee men they are now. The trailer for the film did it no favors. Amazon, which originally planned to Oscar campaign for it with a big push similar to Manchester By The Sea last year – gave up early when it garnered no momentum at either the Globes or SAG – and never opened it beyond 300 screens. It has generated no Oscar buzz at all.

    It was smart not to compare it to The Last Detail – a much better film – since it’s almost 45 years old and the younger audiences either haven’t seen it or wouldn’t make the connection anyway.

    Like

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