Last Flag Flying is a 2017 American comedy drama film that was directed by Richard Linklater with a screenplay written by Linklater and Darryl Poniscan, based upon the latter’s 2005 novel of the same name. It stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne as three Vietnam War veterans who reunite after one of their sons is killed in the Iraq War. Poniscan’s novel, Last Flag Flying is a direct sequel to his 1970 novel titled The Last Detail, which covered the same characters earlier on in their lives. For that reason, Last Flag Flying has been described as an unofficial sequel to the earlier novel’s 1973 film adaptation, The Last Detail.
Taking place in December 2003, Larry “Doc” Shepherd visits the bar of Sal Nealon, a former Marine that he served with in Vietnam. After introducing himself, Doc, a Navy corpsman briefly mentions his bad-conduct discharge and subsequent incarceration in the US Navy prison. The next morning, Sal and Doc drive up to the church of another friend from Vietnam, Richard Mueller, where he is the pastor. At Mueller’s house that evening, Doc reveals that his wife had recently passed away, and that the purpose of his trip was to ask his friend to accompany him to retrieve and bury his son, Larry, who had recently been killed in Iraq. Sal agrees, while Mueller is initially reluctant to leave; at the insistence of his wife, he eventually agrees and they begin their journey to Washington DC.
Principal photography began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in November 2016. The film had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 28, and was released in the United States by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate Films on November 3, 2017. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating of 73% based on the 119 reviews that have been submitted, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The critical consensus reads that “Last Flag Flying balances raw drama against refreshing moments of humor in an impeccably cast film that wrestles with questions of patriotism, family, and grief.”
The Film Itself (5/5):
Picture yourself as someone who has not only served their country, but served during a time of war, a war that was determined to be considerably the most devastating war in history for US Troops. Last Flag Flying follows three men who served by each others side as they have become much older than they were at the time of their service, and one of their colleagues (played by Steve Carell) needs their help. Obviously if this was you, you would jump and offer whatever was needed to make sure everything goes smooth for your friend. The story that we’re given with this movie is just that, and shows a deep amount of solidarity among those friends. There’s a lot of drama that unfolds not only among each other, but within ones self in this film, followed by various bouts of humor as the three friends joke around with each other, and it takes every single aspect of that and pulls you right into the story and keeps you there until the film reaches its conclusion.
Picture Quality (5/5):
Presented in 1080p, Last Flag Flying looked absolutely beautiful as it played out across my living room television. Everything from the heavily detailed scenery as the lead trio ventures across the country to the small more minute details of the makeup that fabricated their war torn aged faces. One thing that really stood out to my wife and I as we watched this movie was how the camera was able to capture and convey the emotions of the characters as they worked toward their goal. Visually seeing that emotion allowed for us to put ourselves in their shoes and really share those feelings.
Audio Quality (5/5):
Packaged with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track, Last Flag Flying does everything that it can within its power to offer an all out immersive experience for its viewers. There aren’t any scenes that offer any kind of seat grabbing action, but more of a softer, emotional and bonding experience among the three comrades. The musical accompaniment that was included in the standard Blu-release helped with conveying the emotions that they were feeling, as well as the variety of thoughts that crossed each others minds.
The Packaging (2.5/5):
Last Flag Flying comes packaged in your standard single disc Blu-ray amaray case. Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film, the disc featuring absolutely no artwork whatsoever outside of the standard release text. There are no DVD copies included, but there is a digital copy redemption pamphlet inside the case as well as a slipcover that’s been provided during the initial print run of this release.
Special Features (4/5):
There are only four special features that are included with the Blu-ray release of Last Flag Flying. While there are so few, the content of those special features allows for not only a look into the work that went into this film, but a further exploration into the storyline as well as the characters that are being portrayed on your screen. Included with this release is:
- Deleted Scenes
- An Unexpected Journey: Making Last Flag Flying
- Veterans Day Featurette
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH, Spanish
Original Film: 124 minutes
I am exceptionally grateful that the folks over at Lionsgate Pictures gave us the opportunity to sit down with this film. Last Flag Flying is one of those films that grabs your attention right from the get-go and keeps you in completely through to the end. The story is all about camaraderie and the overall bond of friendship that develops among people throughout their adolescence. Just following along with these characters, my wife and I couldn’t help but feel as if we were tagging right along with them, working to overcome every single hurdle that crossed their paths. The visual and audible presentation of the Blu-ray release was exceptionally clean, clear and allowed for us to understand everything as it progressed. Hell, the camera perfectly captured the various emotions among the lead trio on their ventures while the audio track added that tone to include what they were feeling as they worked together. Normally, I would make a comment about a Blu-ray release really needing to include a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track given the technology precedence; but, this film does not call for that one bit. The technology behind the included audio track fit this film perfectly and did an absolutely beautiful job. The special features that are included on this release, while there’s only a few, do a beautiful job at exploring the story further as well as giving a look at the work the crew went through in making this film. If you’re on the fence about grabbing this film for your collection, I would absolutely, hands down recommend picking it up on release day. Last Flag Flying will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning on January 30, 2018.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.