Last Flag Flying

Doc shows up in his old pal Sal’s bar, unannounced. They haven’t seen each other since they served together in Vietnam. The trio isn’t complete until they pick up Mueller, now a reverend, and only then does Doc confess the true nature of their journey. Doc’s son has just died in Iraq, and they’re on a mission to bring his flag-draped body home.

The kid’s getting a hero’s burial but Doc learns that the circumstances of his son’s death were a little less than heroic – nothing against his kid, just the same tragic junk that the government would prefer to mislabel  – and it’s tearing him apart. So instead of leaving his son’s body in government hands, he resolves to hijack the coffin and he and his buds travel across the country to bring him home.

324633-last-flag-flying-la-derniere-tournee-gagnez-vos-places-2But you may recall that these old guys (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne) were also marines, and they have their own tragic story that they tiptoe around and unravel slowly. And butting these two wars together, it’s rough; it may be 30 years later, but the senselessness feels eerily similar.

Richard Linklater puts together a really tough movie. It kind of flew under the radar when released so I didn’t have great expectations for Last Flag Flying, but in fact it does a pretty good job handling conflicting themes between grief, friendship, patriotism, service, and sacrifice. While it may suffer somewhat from the shifts in tone from levity to the more somber, it has a really incredible cast that brings warmth and real humanity to what is an otherwise fairly standard script.

Steve Carell: wow. We’ve seen him be extraordinary before, between Foxcatcher and Freeheld and Battle of the Sexes and more besides, there’ more to Carell than just a funny guy. He maneuvers between similar chords and discordant ones like this is some kind of masterclass in acting and fucking Laurence Fishburne has front row seats. And that’s no kind of knock against Carell’s costars, who really make this a tight little dramedy.  Bonding happens during acts of bravery, but also, apparently, in unheroic moments. Men make war, and war makes men. It’s dark, could stand to be darker, but that’s the stuff that works the best, and is deeply moving to watch.

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18 thoughts on “Last Flag Flying

  1. J.

    Under the radar and off the radar… not even aware of this one and probably wouldn’t really opt to see something like this unless there was good reason. Good reason here being Steve Carell.

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  2. Invisibly Me

    Must admit I thought this was quite watchable and the premise was moving, but I didn’t always find it to feel all that genuine and believable, leaving it somewhat unmemorable for me. Not awful, but could have been better. Concise write-up! x

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      1. ninvoid99

        I’d totally recommend seeing The Last Detail as it features a great yet incendiary script by Robert Towne and a fierce performance from Jack Nicholson.

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  3. badblokebob

    I have this on my to-watch list purely because of Linklater, but the premise has never particularly appealed to me. Sounds like I should make sure to give it a chance after all.

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    1. Jay Post author

      See, I was the opposite. I felt burned out on Linklater. I approached with caution but had heard some decent reviews, though it largely went under the radar.

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