Rated R
124 Minutes
Released November 3

In the guise of a humorous story of three misfits who meet up and go on an impromptu road trip many years after serving together as Marines in Viet Nam, Last Flag Flying is a symphony of philosophical thought.

Probably for everyone who watches this film, including those who have served in the armed forces as well as those who have not, there is a recognition that going to war as a soldier is like a being a child who is curious about a washing machine, climbs in to look and gets sucked in. Even after this child is rescued from the machine and has been put through the “dryer,” he will never be the same again.

Director Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, Boyhood, Before Midnight) has been able to pull extraordinary performances from his cast. The story walks that thin line between comedy and tragedy so that you are never sure which side you’re on.

Bryan Cranston as “Sal Nealon” seems to completely and believably inhabit the body of someone who is not Bryan Cranston.

Lawrence Fishburne as the complex “Reverend Richard Mueller” is able to convey all the polarizing thoughts and emotions of this man with very few carefully chosen words. Steve Carell is the face of tragedy as “Doc Sheppard,” a complete switch from his previous roles, yet even Doc can laugh, hilariously at times.

J Quinton Johnson, who has very little on camera experience, is memorable as the young Marine “Washington” who is assigned to the guide the group in their travels.

Other great performances come from some of the actors in smaller roles – Deanna Reed-Foster as “Ruth,” Ul Vazquez as “General Willitz,” Jane Mowder as the rental truck lady, Kate Easton as the cell phone clerk and Cicely Tyson as “Mrs. Hightower.”

The only critique I have of this movie is both that Linklater got some superb comedic riffs from the brilliant Bryan Cranston that were probably largely improvised, which maybe go on a tad bit long and cut into the flow of the rhythm of the film. I’m sure many will disagree with me on that however.

Last Flag Flying is a beautifully crafted existential look at what drives us to do the things we do in life, to make our choices, good or bad, that define our character.

Sometimes benevolent choices beget seemingly selfish and thoughtless actions. Sometimes seemingly innocent choices beget tragedy.

Yet bravery and grandeur can be found in any individual’s story.

That’s the essence of life.
See this movie. In my opinion, there could be some Oscar nominations here.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. For previously published reviews see