Projections - Movie Reviews

The Last Castle

The Last Castle

Two strong willed officers fight for control of a maximum security military prison in this gripping drama.

Robert Redford stars as three star General Eugene Irwin, sentenced to ten years at The Castle, a military prison, for disobeying an order that resulted in some men under his command losing their lives.

Irwin, a respected hero of the Gulf War and Bosnia, just wants to keep his nose clean and do his time.  But, Col. Winter, the sadistic Warden, makes it difficult for him to mind his own business and stay out of trouble.

Winter, James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) runs the prison with a "zero tolerance" policy.  Citing ancient military law to back him up, Winter, thin-lipped and maniacal, enjoys giving out harsh, and sometimes fatal punishments.  Even going so far as inciting fights among the prisoners so he can have his guards spray the men with rubber bullets.

Winter, a strange character, is obsessed with the trappings of military life (perhaps because he doesn't measure up himself).  He has a collection of military memorabilia that he fingers, touches and arranges in its glass covered case, over and over again.  He relates to inanimate objects, instead of live people.

The film opens on Irwin's first day at the Castle.  Because of his rank and reputation, the other prisoners soon turn to him for leadership, and he rallies them into mounting a prison take-over.

With steely determination, Irwin makes the men remember that they were once soldiers, and can be again.

Redford looks every bit like a man in control.  The calm of his voice, the decisiveness of his words and the straightness of his back give us confidence that he is a leader.

The ending battle between the inmates and guards is all out war.  Director Rod Lurie (The Contender) catches us up in the excitement of it all, that is, until we begin thinking about just how the prisoners came up with all their weapons.

The men construct a grappling hook, gasoline bombs and even a giant catapult (all off screen, mind you).  It makes you wonder where were all of the guards (and there are plenty of them) when the weapon building occurred, and how the heck they hid them until the big day arrived.

Even so, Redford and Gandolfini are so good, the questions can be discounted and the performances enjoyed.

The Last Castle

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