STORY: Inspired by a true story, ‘The Last Full Measure’ is a detailed account of one man’s struggle to get a US Air Force soldier the nation’s highest military honour, 34 years after his ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War.
It looks like many of the critics are whiffing on this one and downgrading a film that should be seen but probably won’t be. At least not by enough. We viewed a late afternoon showing in Chicago’s western suburbs with 4 other folks at the local AMC chain multiplex.
It’s a tale of bravery under fire that doesn’t play down the blood, sweat and tears that war always brings. But the actual battle depicted is not the only one here making for a story that spanned the decades from 1966 to 1999. It’s a film in which the good guys (and not so good guys) both lose and win. A story that we need now more than ever with our country ripping apart between the red and blue by temporarily powerful people who profit personally from the division they are feeding.
We dare you to watch this film without tears welling up and running down your cheek. The cast? A mix of fine newcomers we don’t know with a talented cast of others who used to star but have slipped away as the lines in their faces grow deep and their hairlines recede.
William Hurt (with a hearing aid that looks real life for him), Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Diane Ladd, Samuel Jackson, John Savage and it what appears to be his final role, Peter Fonda.
On the downside, ‘The Last Full Measure’ feels lengthy and the screenplay doesn’t effectively revisit the fateful day. We see repeated flashes of the day and the young William played by Jeremy Irvine doesn’t really get a chance to shine. The narrative invests much time in repeated internal conflicts of characters until a rousing climax unleashes its full potential as a tear-jerker.
The writing remains honest to the true events and gives its viewers and protagonists a befitting closure. It’s a story of redemption and retribution that deserves a telling as much as the top honour for a fallen hero.
It’s a thought provoking cinematic trip back that is well worth taking.