Release Date: November 3, 2017
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater, Darryl Ponicsan
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell, J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, Yul Vazquez, Graham Wolfe, Jeff Monahan, Dontez James, Tammy Tsai, Richard Barlow, Cathy O’Dell, Jane Mowder, Richard Robichaux, Jerry Lee Tucker, Marc Moore, Kate Moore, Kate Easton, Cicely Tyson, Sarah Silk, Ted Watts Jr., Lee Harrington, Samuel Davis
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 124 minutes
Production Company: Amazon Studios, Big Indie Pictures, Cinetic Media, Detour Filmproduction
Genre: Comedy, Drama, War
When challenging times come, sometimes it’s best to rely on those you never thought you would. That’s the first thing that came to mind during my viewing of Last Flag Flying. Set in the real world during 2004, three veterans played by Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, and Steve Carrell reunite to console the latter during a time of tragedy. This is a film that pulls on your heartstrings, that may make you cry, but also provides enough room to make you laugh, in a cross-country adventure that will speak volumes to those who served in Armed Forces in the United States.
It’s been thirty years since the three mentioned above have served in the military, and afterward, they all went their separate ways as expected. Though when Carrell found out his son has fallen while serving overseas he reached out to his long lost mates to join him through the funeral arrangements. This is where the comedy picks up in the film, and the journey starts to begin. Which little judgment, they each reminisce about old times, and discuss what drives them in the present day. It was a joy to see them interact with one another, and while they’re so different now, you could tell the comradery they had from many years ago was still somewhat strong. Sitting in a room with these three bashing each other with jokes nonstop would be a time to remember, and I surely did laughing along as they did on their quest.
Though, all times aren’t pleasant in the film, as reality hits and long-lost memories of misery begin to rise up as well. Shortly after the laughs come to a halt in the film, and the sadness comes about. Here’s where I have a dilemma with the film, as it stretched out entirely too long. Not to sound insensitive to those that have served, but the film concentrates too much on you feeling sorry for Steve Carrell’s character instead of getting to the point. Once the plot is completely presented during the first act of the film, it moves like a snail to conclude to the ending. The story would’ve been easier to enjoy if it went from simply A to B, but in between, there were a numerous amount of pitstops along the way that served no purpose and delayed a sorrow finale.
While the acting was where it needed to be, and put you in the shoes of the characters, the film biggest mistake was the runtime at over two hours. It teased you to a potential happy ending but instead kicked you while you were already down. This mixture of comedy and sadness could’ve worked, but it was left in the oven too long, with you nearly starving on end for it to be over. Then when it’s all said and done, the ending is abrupt with you left seated not knowing how to feel. It will upset some audience viewers while others will feel indifferent, but thirty minutes could’ve easily been shaved off, and a lighter conclusion would’ve been appreciated than the dark on you’re left with.