Last Flag Flying: Film Review

Even though I like Steve Carell and Bryan Cranston a lot, I skipped Last Flag Flying at the London Film Festival because the premise didn’t exactly thrill me, and my hunch was pretty much correct.

Carell is Larry ‘Doc’ Shepherd, who visits his old Vietnam War comrades Sal (Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) after decades of no contact as his son has just died in Iraq and he wants them to go with him to collect his son and give him a proper burial.

I’m not saying Last Flag Flying is a bad movie but it’s not one I’d encourage others to see. It does have many redeeming factors – like the performances and dialogue – but it was just far too long. It is two hours but thanks to pacing issues and far too much (sometimes unnecessary) content, it feels way longer.

It is definitely worth a watch for the performances though. Cranston is larger than life as the alcoholic, loudmouth Sal and that gives way to great chemistry between the timid Doc and Richard, who is now a preacher. All three men are on top form, but Cranston and Carell deserve the most praise.

Richard Linklater‘s script is both hilarious and poignant and, in some instances, the balance works and in others it’s not quite right. But there are some great dialogue scenes, mostly lead by Cranston, which are funny, realistic and well-observed, with some great lines about mobile phones, Eminem and the declining position of his morning erections over the years.

If it wasn’t so long, I’d probably have more positive things to say but their journey just kept going and going and can be slow in places so it took all of my patience. The performances and script are genuinely good but the film as a whole didn’t quite come together.

In cinemas Friday 26th January 

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