Larry, aka Doc (Steve Carell), tracks down his old friends who served with him in the Vietnam War around 30 years ago. Larry is shortly reunited with both Sal (Bryan Cranston) & Rev Richard (Laurence Fishburne). Larry brings them together to tell them about his son’s recent death- a Marine who was sadly shot while serving in Iraq. Larry requests their support and assistance as they journey to another city to bury his son. Their journey together also allows them to discuss the past and hopefully reunite once again as brothers.
One of the biggest strengths of this film are our three lead’s performances and seeing just how different these characters are from each other. It should also be noted that all actors here are past academy nominees. Larry (Steve Carell) is rather shy and silent. Many scenes with him are based on facials such smiles, and expressions of sadness etc. Contrasting with Steve Carell’s character, Sal (Bryan Cranston) is the loud guy who pushes the limits of those around him. And finally, Rev Richard (Laurence Fishburne) is now a pastor of a church, happily married, and since the war, he has moved on to a peaceful life.
I loved the concept of a man asking for support in a time of need, but also enjoyed that he had to make challenging choices and question how his son died. How should a man be buried who served in battle and is a soldier, but is still his father’s son? Needless to say the film is classed as a drama with light comedic relief and contains substantial amounts of dialogue, which is expected given the film’s talents.
While I enjoyed the story and the overall performances, I do have some minor issues with some of the scenes. As the music sneaks in, you just know something deep is about to be said. Sometimes the dialogue in these ‘deep’ moments is sharp and at other times, well… it can be forgotten about rather quickly. Sometimes watching these men struggling with minor issues such as arranging transport felt slightly forced, deliberately trying to allow our characters to reveal something deep. I sometimes felt this works, and sometimes it felt somewhat forced.
Overall, Last Flag Flying is a film that doesn’t disappoint with its acting nor its characters. There is a great and compelling story here, but it gets slowed down when the film tries to force-feed us with deeper moments. Either way, it’s worth a look. The film also delivers a powerful ending which redeems some of the issues I initially felt.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden