The Last Castle

"Good"

The Last Castle Review


After critic-turned-filmmaker Rod Lurie's pitiful attempt at a White House drama (and I use that word loosely) with last year's The Contender, Lurie provides a bit of redemption with The Last Castle, a semi-decent drama set in a tough-as-nails military prison.

Robert Redford, in his first acting role since 1998's The Horse Whisperer, plays venerable three-star General and war hero Eugene Irwin, a soldier who quickly pleads guilty in his court martial, resulting in a ten year sentence to an unnamed military prison. When hearing of Irwin's impending arrival, head warden Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini) is astounded, saying they should be naming a base after the guy, not locking him up for a decade.

Lurie effectively sets the tone between these two men early in The Last Castle, staging an introduction in Winter's office that plays out with equal parts respect, fear, and trepidation. In one of Gandolfini's finer moments in the film, he politely provides the General due consideration, while still trying to flex his muscles as the new commanding officer. The mind games between the two escalate quickly, and with much less over-the-top fanfare than in The Contender.

What follows for plot is fairly typical: Colonel Winter, although hard-working, is abusive and corrupt; Prisoner Irwin is a humble, smart man made of steel, knowing that the system must change (see also Redford's warden in Brubaker); and a prison full of ex-soldiers are looking for a mentor and hero. You know where this is going (and if you don't, just read the movie's tagline -- "A castle can only have one king." Ugh.)

But predictability doesn't necessarily lead to boredom in this case. As the screenplay -- by first-timer David Scarpa, with help from Graham Yost (Mission to Mars, Broken Arrow) -- moves us toward the inevitable final showdown, The Last Castle slowly turns into a fantasy-styled action movie. As long as you can suspend disbelief, and you'll need to in this case, there's a surprisingly exciting bang-'em-up charge waiting for you. You just have to believe that one small fistfight in a maximum security military prison would confuse the jailors enough to leave a couple of hundred men alone in a mess hall. That kind of stuff.

The Last Castle also gets weighed down by some of the same problems seen in The Contender. Lurie's heavy hand results in a few dramatic scenes that almost play for laughs, and his patriotic, jingoistic streak comes screaming through, with help from Jerry Goldsmith's fife-and-drum style background music, slow-motion shots of the American flag, and monologues about pride and courage. It is incredible timing for this film to be released during a period of such widespread patriotism in America. But perhaps Lurie and the writers might have thought twice about glorifying a bunch of hard-nosed criminals, military or not.

Once you let the realism go (or lack of it), it's fun to see the Colonel get his just desserts, and Redford, just fine as the movie's true leader, shows us what real heroism is all about. Just make sure to consider this film about as likely a scenario as Robert Redford actually being in a military prison (of course, Lurie is a man who had the president launching nukes from a Colorado diner in Deterrence). Then, wait for the fighting to start and the walls to crumble.

Two castles down, one to go.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 131 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th October 2001

Box Office USA: $17.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $27.6M

Budget: $72M

Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG

Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 59 Rotten: 55

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Lt. Gen. Eugene Irwin, as Col. Winter, as Yates, as Cap. Peretz, as Gen. Wheeler, as Dellwo, as Duffy, Jeremy Childs as Cutbush, George W. Scott as Thumper, Clifton Collins, Jr. as Cp. Ramov Aguilar

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot...

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of...

Money Monster Movie Review

Money Monster Movie Review

A sleekly made thriller with a sparky sense of humour, this is also a rare...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Advertisement
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.