Last Flag Flying
I think it’s important to talk about events like the Vietnam War, and I had hoped this film would be captivating enough to hold my attention. But I’m afraid it fell a bit flat. It’s the story of Doc (Steve Carell), a Vietnam veteran who learns his son has been killed in action in Iraq. He tracks down two old military buddies, Sal (Bryan Cranston) and Richard (Laurence Fishburne), to accompany him when his son’s remains are returned to the U.S. The trajectory of the movie is basically one drawn-out conversation among the three, and they convey some important points about sacrificing for your country. But I found it long and tedious.
I did enjoy Sal’s stream-of-consciousness dialogue, which provides some comic relief. He’s one of those characters with no filter—if a thought pops into his head, it’s going to come out of his mouth. He has a certain degree of childishness that’s charming, and it breaks up the monotony.
Based on a Darryl Ponicsan novel, the film presents an interesting question: Is it best to preserve the veneer of military glory, or to tell families the reality of overseas events? On their journey, the three pay a visit to elderly Mrs. Hightower (Cicely Tyson), who doesn’t realize that her son, their buddy Jimmy, died in ignominious circumstances in Vietnam. They arrive intending to tell her the truth, but change their minds when they see her pride in him. To me, that is the film’s most touching moment.
Should you see it? I’d say no. The message is important, but the vehicle is pretty slow-moving.
Viewed at Marcus Ronnie’s Cine