I was easy to name when I was born: my middle name, Ruben, was the first name of my maternal grandfather, who passed away before I was born, while my first name came from my paternal uncle Donald, who died in Vietnam. When it comes to Vietnam, I have been to The National Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. more than once. To see my uncle’s name on the wall is hard to describe emotionally, knowing I was named after him, and I often wonder how family members of the fallen deal with the loss?
“Last Flying Flag” is the new film from director and co-writer Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Before Midnight) and stars Steve Carell (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Foxcatcher), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Mystic River), Bryan Cranston (Argo, Drive), J. Quinton Johnson (Transient, Everybody Wants Some!!), Yul Vazquez (Captain Phillips, The Infiltrator), and Deanna Reed-Foster (Southside with You, Chicago Fire). The story takes place in 2003 and centers around Doc (Carell), who out of the blue, reaches out to Mueller (Fishburne) and Sal (Cranston), both of whom served with him in Vietnam. Doc states that his son and only child was killed two days earlier in Iraq (also just a few months after he loses his wife), and he asks for their help in dealing with the arrival of his son at Dover Air Force base and in the funeral arrangements for his son.
The film was shot in the New England area in multiple cities as they travel to get his son transported for the funeral, and does so in a good light. I like how it spotlighted the local areas as well as the non-touristy areas. When it comes to the acting, the three main characters played by Carell, Fishburne, and Cranston play their roles very well and they feed off their differences in lifestyles. Carell plays the lonely man who now has someone who is soft spoken and has no real backbone, Fishburne plays the man who gave up his partying days and lifestyle during the war and who now a married man and preacher, while Cranston plays the arrogant and self-centered alcoholic who owns a rundown bar. When there are those three different personas, they clash well, but start to slowly bond again after remembering their days in the war and also with the burden at hand. Johnson also does well as the Marine who is in charge of making sure his fallen military brother and best friend gets to his final resting place.
I really liked the subject matter is dealt with in a tough circumstance, which makes this a serious comedy; it is a serious film, but there the small comedic moments which gives it a nice variety. There are some very emotional moments (especially at the end), so in that aspect I really love the film. But the issue is that I though the film was about twenty minutes longer than its two hour and four minute run time carries. It is like the car going fifty on a seventy miles per hour freeway; there was just something about it that just dragged, and cutting a few scenes and better flow would have made this film way better, eve with the few minor political but serious jabs. I did like this film overall, especially the main subject and how they handled it, but with the pacing issues, I will recommend this film as a Redbox rental.