Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne are Vietnam War buddies who reunite 30 years later for one last melancholy road trip in the trailer for Richard Linklater’s new drama, Last Flag Flying. The movie from Amazon Studios and Lionsgate is based on novelist Darryl Ponicsan’s sequel to his 1970 novel The Last Detail, which was itself adapted into a classic film starring Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid and directed by the legendary Hal Ashby.
In Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, former medic Doc Shepard (Carell) meets up again with his old friends – brash ex-Marine Sal Nealon (Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Fishburne) – to transport the body of his son, a Marine who was killed in the Iraq war. Linklater’s film is not an official sequel to the 1973 movie The Last Detail, as the characters’ names and bios have been changed; instead, the film stands as a sort of spiritual successor to Ashby’s film.
Amazon Studios has dropped a somber first trailer for Last Flag Flying, highlighting Cranston’s performance as the grizzled Sal Nealon, a bartender who drops everything to help his old friend Doc after his son’s body is shipped back from Iraq and must be transported home to New Hampshire for burial. Together the two meet up with Reverend Mueller, who used to be a “first-class drinker and gambler,” and embark on a road trip up the East Coast – during which they reminisce about Vietnam and grapple with their feelings about more young men like Doc’s son being sent off to die in war.
With its melancholy music including a snippet from Neil Young’s “Old Man“, the trailer promises a funny-but-wistful portrait of camaraderie in the face of pain and loss. Richard Linklater wrote the script along with novelist Darryl Ponicsan.
The original Last Detail starred Jack Nicholson and Otis Brown as a pair of hard-living Navy lifers tasked with transporting a young sailor (Randy Quaid) to jail to begin serving an eight-year sentence. The older men take pity on the virginal young prisoner and decide to show him a good time – involving lots of drinking, fighting and going to prostitutes – before sending him to the brig. The movie earned Nicholson and Quaid Oscar nominations and has since attained classic status, largely thanks to Hal Ashby’s offbeat direction.
Linklater in some ways has taken up the mantle of Hal Ashby, a director who was known for bringing a certain unique, not-necessarily-commercial sensibility to a wide range of material. The Last Detail is a movie with a lot of anger in it but also a lot of sadness and humor, and at least going by the trailer, it appears Linklater has tried to capture some of that same mix of emotions in Last Flag Flying. The eclectic director of Boyhood and Dazed and Confused will follow up with the comedy Where’d You Go Bernadette? starring Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Billy Crudup and Kristen Wiig.
Source: Amazon Studios
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