Last Flag Flying (2017)

DailyView: Day 330, Movie 473

Last Flag Flying was another one of those movies where I remember seeing the trailers quite a few times in the theaters, but never having the movie come to the theater so I could see it.

The film is the story of three former Vietnam vets. They had gone their separate ways after the war. Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) had served some time in the brig at the end of the war and then got out and got married. Richard Mueller (Lawrence Fishburne) became a recovering alcoholic and became a preacher. Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) became a bar owner and was constantly getting drunk.

Doc came to find his friends to ask them a favor. His son was killed in Iraq and he needed to go claim his body and he asked his old friends to come with him.

Conflict arose between the old friends whose paths had taken such drastic turns. Especially between Sal and Richard. However, as the days pass, the three of them discovered how important they were to each other.

Directed by Richard Linkletter, Last Flag Flying has, at its core, three great performances from three top of the line actors. This may be one of my personal favorite performances from Steve Carell. The sadness of his loss permeated the character and it was painful to watch him. Even his moments of pure joy and laughter had a ring of anguish behind his eyes. Carell was exceptional.

Bryan Cranston had some outstanding moments too, but he felt a little over the top at times. He was such a blunt character that didn’t appear to care what anyone else felt, but his connection to Doc and Richard was different. Lawrence Fishburne had a quieter performance, but shades of the old Mueller Mauler was brought out by Sal’s buffoonery.

There was a scene with a Marine colonel that felt unresolved, but the storyline with the three men and the loss felt by Doc dominated any other possible secondary story arcs.

The strength of this film is clearly the three stars. Some of the story is not as strong, but the three actors really elevated the material.

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