Rated: R for language throughout including some sexual references. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: November 3, 2017 Released by: Lionsgate
Richard Linklater has a decent antecedent and top line thespians at his disposal beside 2005 novelist Darryl Ponicsan, but his latest feature doesn't balance humor and a dramatic moral complexity very well.
Last Flag Flying could be an amalgamation of In The Valley of Elah and Going In Style, not really a sequel to the macho mayhem found in Hal Ashby's 1973 "The Last Detail" which boasted acclaimed work from Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid.
Here, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne are on the road from Virginia to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in a tale about old Vietnam War chums burying one of their sons in what is learned to be a war crime in 2003's Operation Iraqi Freedom.
It deals with the notions of patriotism, respect, regret, and authority as their Doc, Sal and Mueller (now a Pastor) pull together amidst the sobering and adult fun. Like the characters, though, a maudlin muddle precipitates what has uproarious possibility and poignancy - like a long shot at a hangar.
But, the way to an unmerited military funeral doesn't resonate as these guys don't give the real impression of having gone through the kind of strife that would connect two wars which hangs more on Linklater than his actors. Carell can be convincing in his restraint and Fishburne effective at times in his vacillations; Cranston's alcoholic bartender, crowd-pleasing as he may same, is too shrill and tedious overall to make one relish this kind of bond. Of the ilk that's been been fashioned better in other more authentic movies.
And, this is what's lacking from the writer/director of Boyhood and Before Midnight - perhaps just not the pure feel for the material as in the delicacy and astuteness he's displayed even more recently in Everybody Wants Some. Even, with moments from secondary characters like Yul Vasquez, Cicely Tyson, and especially J. Quinton Johnson (who's been on stage in the hit Hamilton).
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