Movie review: “Last Flag Flying” considers the costs of war, from Vietnam to Iraq

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 07:55:21 AM. An ambling, low-key vibe pervades “Last Flag Flying,” which has been billed as a spiritual sequel to Hal Ashby’s 1973 “The Last Detail” and lives up to that promise.
Three stars. Rated R. 124 minutes. An ambling, low-key vibe pervades “Last Flag Flying,” which has been billed as a spiritual sequel to Hal Ashby’s 1973 “The Last Detail” and lives up to that promise. As the film opens, the meek, mustached Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) pays a visit to a Norfolk, Virginia, bar run by Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston), quietly nursing his beer until Sal recognizes who it is: The two served in Vietnam together 30 years earlier, when Larry was sent to the brig after an unnamed infraction that they refer to with knowing looks and half-sentences. It turns out that Larry, who has been living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is on a mission, for which he wants to enlist Sal and another war buddy, Richard “The Mauler” Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), now a pastor living outside Richmond. Once underway on their journey, the three present a grizzled, slightly wan semblance of the characters Jack Nicholson and Otis Young brought to life decades ago in a similarly eventful journey. Although they’re clearly different, Doc, Sal and Mueller share some brushstrokes with the characters from Ashby’s film, who were on their way to deposit a miscreant (played by a young Randy Quaid) to a Portsmouth military facility. “Last Flag Flying,” which takes place in 2003, obliquely revisits the events that put Doc in detention, but the main focus of the film is the Iraq War, one of whose casualties he and his friends are now in charge of seeing to his final resting place. As a...Read more
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