A straight forward homage to sacrifice and heroism dramatizes the attempt to honor an Air Force Pararescue soldier William Pitsenbarger (known as Pits) lowered into Vietnam’s Xa Cam My jungle in 1966 and died while saving many lives during a bloody ambush.
The Last Full Measure stars Sebastian Stan, William Hurt, and Samuel L. Jackson in a long-gestating project from Todd Robinson (scribe of Ridley Scott’s White Squall). It may be contrasted by some 1917 about being immersed into a hopeful situation while eliciting some power from the haunting effect of coming to the aid of compatriots.
It’s got quite a cast, including Christopher Plummer, Ed Harris and John Savage, and its thematic resonance stems from the veneration of the subject matter. It’s finally getting a release after shooting was finished three years ago.
The setting is 1999 – 2000 where Scott Huffman (filled with jejune skepticism by Stan) is prodded by Hurt’s veteran Tom Tulley to help procure a posthumous Medal of Honor for Pits. This involves spending time with other veterans like Harris’s bus driver and the brusquely witty Jackson. Not to mention Savage’s butterfly sanctuary proprietor and the late Peter Fond’s very formal Jimmy Burr as other disparate vets.
Plummer and Diane Ladd as Pits’ parents bring noticeable sentiment to the proceedings with Jeremy Irvine embodying the role of the boy downed in war in visceral recollections (though not as lurid as say a Hacksaw Ridge). The ambiguity of Courage Under Fire isn’t part of the equation here as commendable as those like Harris and especially Hurt as a hospice employee are. It’s just that Robinson isn’t really that capable to make a real, compelling viable look at a war which has been evocatively examined in so many pictures like Coming Home, even Mel Gibson’s decent We Were Soldiers.
Many, many producers backed The Last Full Measure (as its title comes a passage in Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address) in a way that its sum just doesn’t add up to a few eloquent instances. The real tension arises fro a couple of the characters (all fictionalized) outside of Pits and his family as on besides Huffman becomes enlightened, so to speak. What’s meant to really be a palliative experience has a political (read: conspiracy) slant when it comes to a senator (real military adviser and Vietnam veteran Dale Dye) up for re-election and his snarky assistant (Bradley Whitford).