Last Flag Flying Reviewed by Jarred Tito

The Premise
In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Hospital Corpsman Larry "Doc" Shepherd re-unites with ex-Marines Sal and Mueller on a different type of mission: to bury Doc's son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home in suburban New Hampshire

The Review
Last Flag Flying is a heartfelt story of three ex-marines still bearing the emotional wounds, regrets, good-times and guilt from the Vietnam war, whose paths cross for a second time some thirty years later. Each man is now wiser and more cynical, living reasonably stable lives with little to do with the army or their memories of the war. It’s not until an unexpected event occurs that the three are brought back together.

Although the theme of the film is quite serious, the mood is for the most part quite comical but in a very dramatic way. Though to describe it as a comedy would be very inaccurate but having said that, I haven’t had a good ‘laugh out loud’ moment during a film, like I did with this one, for some time. This picture has plenty of comical moments. But then, that is often the case when you are watching a drama. The dramatic pieces are very intense and the comedy is quite a relief.

Bryan Cranston has certainly come a long since the days of ‘Malcolm In the Middle.’ Though I thought he was quite brilliant in that television series, this role of ex-marine, war veteran takes him to a level that I have not seen him at. His character is edgy and casual, boisterous and defiant but somehow very likable and real. I felt like he was given a lot of room to develop his own character which resulted in him playing it very naturally and believably. Likewise, Lawrence Fishburne, who played the teen soldier in the classic war movie, ‘Apocalypse Now’ also felt very natural in his role. It was almost as if his role in that film was some sort of prequel to his character in this film. Watching him and Cranston together in various scenes was quite an experience. The two had explosive chemistry together. The classic fiery, ‘love/hate’ affair that seems to be always on the edge of ‘melt-down’ while at the same time, could not exist in any other shape or form. However, it’s Steve Carell in the role of ‘Doc’ that brings the real moments to the film.

Doc is both thoughtful and simple at the same time. An easy-going personality with deep thoughts who has still maintained quite a charming sense of nativity. Much like the character he plays in the comedy film, ‘Forty Year Old Virgin.’ Carell is able to bring a certain charm to the story that neither Sal (Cranston) or Mueller (Fishbourne) can. For me, he captured some of the more heart-felt moments in the film which were also quite pivotal to the plot.

At 124 minutes you would never say that this was a short film. But it never felt long either. I really do think that the film-makers got the timing just right. Unlike some films that have you leaving the theatre short-changed, this one sat just right. I felt that it touches all the right chords emotionally, as well as revealing a side to the Vietnam War that Hollywood seldom wanders down.          
The Verdict
One of the must-see movies of 2018. Expertly cast and expertly directed. You will not regret seeing this. This is definitely one of those dramas that you ‘can’t go wrong’ with. I highly recommend a viewing.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 26th April 2018
Rating: M – Contains Offensive language & sexual references
Duration: 124 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell
Director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)