Film Review: Last Flag Flying

On paper, Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying looks like a winner. However, the actual film is a hit and miss affair, despite the talent involved.

Thirty years after they served in Vietnam together, Doc seeks out his old army buddies Sal and Richard. As they reunite, Doc tells his old friends the reason he looked them up. Doc needs their support for a difficult task…

Written by Richard Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan (based on Ponicsan’s novel), Last Flag Flying is drama about grief and friendship, set on the background of war and military service. Linklater’s film features a number of the director’s hallmarks. Last Flag Flying is dialogue-driven, and is filmed in his unobtrusive style.

The narrative focuses on the reuniting of the trio and the task of taking a body home for burial. There is plenty of room to chew the fat on this journey, and Linklater uses this to pontificate more than to develop. Doc, Sal, and Richard are presented as archetypes; they are given distinct personalities but there is no real development beyond what viewers first see. The film’s dialogue is natural, and there is a level of intimacy which is very effective at times. Linklater successfully conveys both grief and futility in one of the film’s key sequences.

At other times, however, Last Flag Flying flails instead of enthralling its viewers. There are some scenes which offer little in terms of plot or character development. This makes the film feel longer than it should. Furthermore, there are attempts to introduce more narrative elements as the film progresses. These are hit and miss; the colonel and his orders seem an unnecessary addition to the final third of the film. Performances from Steve Carrel, Laurence Fishburne, and Bryan Cranston are great.

Last Flag Flying offers decent dialogue and blends drama and comedy well overall. But ultimately, the film lacks sharpness. This would have been welcome in both narrative and thematic terms.

Stuff To Look At

A treasure trove of film-related goodness this week, including X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow and Godzilla

X-Men Days of Future Past

Here is a new featurette for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. Wolverine is one of a host of characters returning from the original X-Men film series. X-Men: Days of Future Past is released in UK cinemas on 22nd May 2014.

Love, Rosie

Above is a teaser trailer for new comedy Love, Rosie. Starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, the film centres on the friendship of Rosie and Alex who go and study in the US together. Love, Rose is scheduled for release in October 2014.


Show us Godzilla! Listening to director Gareth Edwards talk about the monster in his upcoming blockbuster makes me all the more eager to see it. Godzilla hits the big screen on 15th May 2014.


Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is something rather extraordinary. A fictional film made with the same group of actors over a twelve year period, Boyhood is certainly something to look out for. The film is released on 11th July 2014.

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow Poster

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in action adventure Edge of Tomorrow. The film seems like it fits into both Cruise and Blunt’s fairly recent predilection for science fiction. Edge of Tomorrow is released in UK cinemas on 30th May 2014.

22 Jump Street

As silly as it is, I am not going to deny that I laughed at this clip. 21 Jump Street was a very entertaining picture, so I am hoping that its sequel will deliver more of the same. 22 Jump Street is released in UK cinemas on 6th June 2014.

In Secret

Here is a clip from upcoming period drama In Secret. Set in 1860s Paris, the film stars Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton and Oscar Isaac. An adaption of Zola’s classic Thérèse Raquin, In Secret hits cinemas on 16th May 2014.

If I Stay

If I Stay is a romantic drama starring Chloe Grace Moretz. The film is based on the 2009 novel of the same name. I am not familiar with it, but I presume it is popular with the kids. If I Stay is due for release later this year.

The Wind Rises

Hayao Miyazaki’s farewell picture is a wonderful ode to dreaming. The Wind Rises continues Studio Ghibli’s tradition for superb animation. The film is released on 9th May 2014.