DVD: Last Flag Flying

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater | CAST: Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, Yul Vasquez, Quinton Johnson, Cicely Tyson
RELEASE DATE: Jan. 30, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $14.99, Blu-ray $20.47
BONUSES: deleted scenes, outtakes, two featurettes
SPECS: R | 125 min. | Drama comedy | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video  | Overall

A sort-of-sequel to 1973’s The Last Detail, Last Flag Flying stars Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) and Laurence Fishburne (Passengers)  as three pals who served together during the Vietnam War who reunite to escort the body of Carell’s late son back to New England after he’s been killed on duty in the 2003 Iraq War.

The film was co-written by director Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and Darryl Ponicson, who penned the book that The Last Detail was based on. Last Flag Flying is adapted from a novel Ponicson wrote that was an actual sequel to The Last Detail. But the film features characters based on the originals with Carrell, Cranston and Fishburne portraying Randy Quaid, Jack Nicholson and Otis Young types, respectively.

If this is confusing….well, you’re right. It’s also disconcerting if you’re a fan of Hal Ashby’s original film, a glorious meat-and-potatoes road movie scripted with expletive-driven genius by the legendary Robert Towne (Chinatown).

Sadly, the somber Last Flag Flying wears out its welcome about halfway through. Linklater’s flat-footed direction and the stilted dialogue halt the film’s forward momentum before it kicks into mid-level gear. The interactions between the grieving medic Carell, boisterous bar owner Cranston and level-headed minister Fishburne becomes uninteresting and artificial. There’s a stagy quality the film can’t escape despite the efforts of the fine actors in the leads. So, the potentially big emotional scenes that occur towards the film’s end don’t have the wallop they need to connect with the audience.

Still, Last Flag Flying is a noble effort from all involved, and the cast and director should draw curiosity seekers who missed the title as it flapped briefly in theaters during its limited engagements.

Buy or Rent Last Flag Flying

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.