Last Flag Flying stands tall showing how important our past is in relation to our future
Taking into account the importance of Last Flag Flying’s overall message, it isn’t half a funny picture. With Steve Carrell, Laurence Fishburne and Brian Cranston each bringing their own unique style to their Vietnam war veterans, the film showcases the importance of memories, togetherness, and finding the humour in everything.
Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston), a former marine, owns a quiet bar making very little money. So when he is visited by an old friend, Larry Sheperd (Steve Carrell), and told of the loss of his marine son, he chooses to embark on a long trip to his funeral in Arlington, Texas. On their journey, they stop at a small church run by the Pastor Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne). To Sal’s amazement, he is the same man who fought in Vietnam with them, then known as Mule. After some convincing, Mueller decides to join them on the road.
Without being too invasive or overbearing, Last Flag Flying gives off a genuine feeling of harmony and inclusion. Because of Linklater’s shot design, his script, and his use of the three leads, the film often makes the camera feel like the 4th member of the trip. It’s incredibly well shot, and this allows for an open and unassuming feel, whatever the conversation subject matter may be.
Working through their lines methodically, the script gives the characters the ability to open up and allow their memories to take over. A theme that is often tried, but very rarely executed in the right way. It would have been easy for Last Flag Flying to fall into a similar category as Last Vegas, or Going In Style with aging actors chosen for their names, and not for what they could do with the role. Really it was never in doubt with Linklater at the helm, but at least that was confirmed.
If a criticism were to be found, it is perhaps too subtle at times, and a clearer message would have pulled over its themes more conclusively, but as the small piece that it has turned out to be, Last Flag Flying stands tall showing how important our past is in relation to our future.