Last Orders Movie Review

It's a shame there are so few films out that realistically portray male bonding, possibly for fear of assuming an underlying current of latent homosexuality. The oft-neglected theme is pleasantly explored in Last Orders, a journey of three old pals who must bury the fourth of their circle. Unfortunately, while admirable in intent, it also follows several predictable plot patterns that are only saved by the talented cast.

Jack (Michael Caine) has recently died, leaving in his wake a widow, two children, and three close friends. His last wish is that lifelong companions Vic (Tom Courtenay), Lenny (David Hemmings), and Ray (Bob Hoskins) throw him out to sea at the honeymoon spot he shared with wife Amy (Helen Mirren). His son, Vince (Ray Winstone), joins them.

On the long drive out, each reflects and shares various life-changing experiences they had with Jack, which are seen in flashback. Intelligently, writer/director Schepisi chooses distinctive experiences to look back on. These are suavely detailed so that you know what is important to learn from that moment but don't become annoyed with the choices you know are about to occur. For instance, Vince is obviously going to have had difficult issues with his father during adolescence because that's normal. But the familial dynamic between Jack and Vince allows for their interaction to feel spontaneous, even though we've heard these arguments a thousand times in other films.

Unfortunately, like so many movies centered on the British working class, it can be hard to understand characters because the dialect is so heavy. Of course, this adds to the realism of camaraderie, but it defeats the purpose of explaining key emotional growths. You have to rely on facial expressions, and sometimes this doesn't work when certain "secrets" are forced into focus.

The other disadvantage to Last Orders is that the pacing appears solely based on Ray's history with Jack. True, he's not the only one who flashes to past events, but he is in almost every scene, the others thrown in for spice. If the whole film had been just about the friendship between Jack and Ray, this would have sufficed. There's almost no reason to have the others, though they do give fine performances.

This effects the pacing, which can get muddy in the time line a particular flashback. Besides, when there are separate actors for "old" and "young," with the added touch of a toupee for Hoskins, there are no emotional stepping stones to climb in the process of personal exploration provoked by the loss of a loved one.

Last Orders is a rare gem of acting and thematic perception. The cast ably pulls off the affectionate jocularity of a group that has stood many of life's tests together, and the human penchant for fault is easy to relate to. Maybe if some of the more powerful moments were stretched across several sudden realizations instead of being forced to fit a memory box, the plot would have held up to its courageous crew.

Last order: steak, rare.


Last Orders Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 2001


More Michael Caine

Daniel Radcliffe To Star In 'Now You See Me 2'

Daniel Radcliffe will star in the upcoming sequel to the 2013 movie Now You See Me. The former Harry Potter star will play the son...

Interstellar Trailer

Mankind is doomed. Following generations of neglect and a lack of care, the planet Earth is a polluted mess and food supplies have all but...

Stonehearst Asylum Trailer

Stonehearst Asylum follows the plot of Edgar Allen Poe's short story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. It is a story about Edward...

Interstellar Trailer

Cooper is a pilot and engineer with a huge ambition to save the world. With little discoveries left to be made on Earth and the...


What Do We Know About Christopher Nolan's Interstellar?

Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey made a surprise visit to the San Diego Comic-Con last week to unveil the full trailer for their new movie,...

Mr Morgan's Last Love Trailer

Matthew Morgan is living in the romantic city of Paris after retiring from his teaching post as a philosophy professor. Despite having lived in France...

Mr. Morgan's Last Love Movie Review

Complex emotions and a gentle exploration of interpersonal connections make this Paris-set drama worth a look, especially since it's so nicely played by the eclectic...

'Escape to Victory' Reboot Set To Capitalize on America's Huge World Cup Following

‘Escape to Victory’ – or simply ‘Victory’ in U.S – captured two emotive subjects for Americans: war and sport. And now a remake is set...