Last Flag Flying

(2017)

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Title:
Last Flag Flying
Release Date:
17th November 2017
Runtime:
124 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Richard Linklater
Writers:
Darryl Ponicsan, Richard Linklater
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with Former Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) on a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home in suburban New Hampshire. Along the way, Doc, Sal and Mueller reminisce and come to terms with shared memories of the war that continues to shape their lives.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 74%
IMDb Rating 6.9

Casts

Bryan Cranston as Sal Nealon
J. Quinton Johnson as Washington
Laurence Fishburne as Reverend Richard Mueller
Steve Carell as Larry 'Doc' Shepherd

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by luvsmovies2 31st October, 2017

Funny AND touching!

I just saw this in a packed theater at the SCAD Savannah Film Fest and liked it even better than I thought I would. It's a great buddy film that isn't full of gross out gags and appeals to both sexes because it is so funny with dramatic/touching moments. The cast is great (as expected) but so is the writing and directing. Definitely a film for grownups of all generations.

Reviewed by ccorral419 27th October, 2017

Friendships built in tough times are the strongest when times are tough

Last Flag Flying. There's no denying, Director Richard Linklater ("Boyhood," "Before Midnight") knows his way around relationship films. Here, the reserved Doc Shephard (Steve Carell) reunites with his former marine buddies "the no holds bar" Sal (Bryan Cranston) and now man of the cloth Rev. Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) to identify and bury Doc's deceased son. With an unspoken history between the men, the reunion and journey is continually filled with tension. When by-the- book Colonel Wilits (Yul Vazquez "Captain Phillips") tries to stand in the way of the guys mission, especially after truths are told, comrade in arms and best friend to the deceased Washington (J. Quinton Johnson - currently on Broadway "Hamilton") join the men as they prove once again, friendships built in tough times are the strongest when times are tough. Based a novel by Darrl Ponicsan, Linklater and him have adapted a touching and honest film that equally pulls at your heart strings and makes you laugh. All the key players here are at the top of the acting game and should be recognized for their contributions. What I especially liked about this film was that the history between the men and the story behind the death were all told without flashbacks. And, when the terrific Cicely Tyson appeared on screen, one could feel the audiences appreciation for her years of screen presences. To date, this is the best all around film I've seen, and you shouldn't miss it.

Reviewed by FallonTimberlake2016 24th October, 2017

A hilariously profound film with three great lead performances.

Last Flag Flying is a comedy/drama from the acclaimed director of Boyhood and Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater. It stars Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, and Bryan Cranston as three friends from the Vietnam War who get back together when Carell's son dies in action. Despite the serious subject matter, this movie is absolutely hilarious. Cranston is absolute comedic gold. He hasn't been as funny as he is here since his Malcolm in the Middle days, and even then he may not have been quite as funny as he is here. You would think going in that Carell would be the comedian here, but instead he is the dramatic anchor. Carell gives a surprisingly emotional performance, keeping the comedy to a minimum. Fishburne is between the two, giving both comedy and drama when it's needed. Of the three it is hard to say which gives the best performance, but the edge must go to Cranston. The movie would probably be ten times more boring without him. There are scenes where Cranston single-handedly made the entire audience in my theater howl with laughter. Last Flag Flying doesn't just give comedy however, it also tackles a great amount of issues that a lesser film would not have pulled off. This film explores the purpose of life, a subject that Linklater is very good at tackling. I would list some of the other issues it tackles, but if I did i would probably be here all day. This movie is definitely not perfect. Near the middle it starts to drag, which is not that large of an issue, but for one or two scenes it is noticeable. There is also a very manufactured conflict in the film. It feels like the writers stuck it in just so there was a conflict of some sort, but it easily could have been taken out and the movie would not have changed. Another issue involves tone. There are a couple scenes where I genuinely could not tell if the film was trying to be serious or funny, but this, like all of the other flaws, is not that big of a deal. Overall, I recommend Last Flag Flying because of both its hilarity and its drama. It is one of the funniest movie of the year and very profound, despite its flaws. I give Last Flag Flying a B+.

Reviewed by Adam One ([email protected]) 11th October, 2017

A Little Less Slacker, A Little More Hollywood

It is difficult to imagine a Linklater film that isn't some radical temporal experiment or structure-less existential rumination and that is by no means a bad thing. Richard Linklater's films have always struck a chord with an audience that was less Hollywood and more speculative, his stories progressing and themes being expressed not through plot but rather through ensemble conversations, the subjects of which vary so wildly that massive spreadsheets exist merely in an attempt to retain all the information. After Everybody Wants Some!!, his delightful spiritual successor to his breakthrough cult classic Dazed and Confused, Linklater offers another loosely-defined sequel in Last Flag Flying, only this time to the legendary Hal Ashby's 1973 Jack Nicholson-fueled classic The Last Detail. The names vary and so does the plot, but the characters are there and the counter-cultural ideals remain the same, albeit matured. However, fans of the director will understand that what Linklater's latest film features is one of the most shocking surprises of the year: a three-act structure! Last Flag Flying stars Bryan Cranston (Sal Nealon), Steve Carrell (Larry 'Doc' Shepherd) and Laurence Fishburne (Mueller) who reunite decades after serving in Vietnam together to help Doc bury his son after he has been killed in combat in Iraq. What follows is a mixture between a road movie, a buddy-comedy, an introspective drama on aging and masculinity, and sociopolitical commentary that offer an uproar of laughs and tears alike whilst also maintaining the director's signature naturalistic tone. The film's three leads undoubtedly make for some of this year's most charming performances. One could argue that half of the actor's jobs have been done for them, with the characterization of The Last Detail to draw from. However, each actor so perfectly embodies the respective character traits of their predecessors whilst simultaneously adding several additional layers as a result of the years between. Bryan Cranston displays a phenomenal range, proving himself a worthy successor to Jack Nicholson, as he brilliantly captures his energy, vulgarity and humor without it ever feeling forced. Seeing Cranston (often typecast into more somber, middle-aged roles) as the bad boy of the trio is ultimately a refreshing presentation of his skill. Steve Carrell effectively transitions between his trademark goofiness and a grieving father, while Laurence Fishburne adds a great amount of depth to the original character of Otis Young's Mulhall, offering some of the film's most delightful moments when him and Cranston play off one another. One almost gets the sense that these actors each play two different characters, as all three prove to have a surface persona as well as an underlying struggle to release or overcome. When Fishburne in particular reverts to his pre-pastor self some of the film's best and funniest moments are had. While the comedy excels at the hands of its actors (arguably the most conventionally funny Linklater film), it's political commentary also take an interesting stance; reflecting primarily left-wing ideologies but also displaying a great amount of respect for the troops. The portrait that Linklater paints is that of war veterans who, while in their younger years jumped at the chance to fight and die for their country, feel radically betrayed by the lies of their government and their purpose (or lack thereof) overseas. Last Flag Flying displays how while soldiers remain such a vital aspect of American identity, it is the soldiers themselves who feel alienated; for how can one trust his government when it has the power to order you to die? Having said that, while the film excellently establishes and solidly reinforces its political frustration and anti-establishment themes throughout, it is only the final few minutes that it begins to thematically fall apart. In fact, I would go so far as to say it feels like the ending of this film is taken from a different film entirely. After a tumultuous journey to bring Doc's son's body home, with an insistence on burying him as a civilian, in civilian clothes, the trio suddenly reminisce over how great they looked in their Navy Blues back in the day, causing Doc to decide to bury him in uniform, like the military intended. This could have all been avoided however had J. Quinton Johnson's character (playing Larry Jr.'s best friend) had given Doc the death letter he wrote for him when he first saw him as opposed to the very end of the film, with specific instructions to bury him just as Doc coincidentally unknowingly orchestrated. It is both the sudden sight of Cranston and Fishburne's characters in uniform that feels so tonally jarring with anti-establishment narrative we were consistently given up until then; and the final voice-over of Larry Jr. reading his letter in which he states that he died doing what he loved felt so unbelievably Hollywood (I don't think I've ever heard a voice-over in a Linklater film) that it merely undermined the governmental frustration expressed throughout. Politics and honor aside, the fact remains that Doc lost his son for no good reason whatsoever, and to hear him say from beyond the grave that he was happy to die at the young age of 21 invokes a sense of patriotism totally inconsistent from the rest of the film. Had it not been for the last 10 minutes, Last Flag Flying would have been a 10-star feature, as it is funny, heartwarming, and inspires such empathy for these characters as both humans and veterans alike. This is an immensely enjoyable feature that offers laughs, drama and effective sociopolitical commentary up until the ending, but is absolutely worth it nevertheless. Though most of Linklater's films are riddled with enough philosophical speculations and debates to awaken one's third eye, this one proves he can effectively tell a conventional story, and instead inspires a smile.

Reviewed by browngr3 28th September, 2017

A film worth seeing!

This film was excellent. For a drama, it had a lot of light moments. Bryan Cranston, Lawrence Fishburne, Steve Carrell and J. Quinton Johnson were great. As a Vietnam Veteran, I related to this very well. I won't give any spoilers here but it touched home for me. A movie worth seeing.