Under the Radar

Vietnam & Iraq War Veterans Bond in 'Last Flag Flying'


One of the best parts of Richard Linklater's movie "Last Flag Flying" (open 11/3 in select cities before rolling out across the country) is the interaction between three Vietnam vets (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne) and the young Marine (J. Quinton Johnson) who served with one of their sons who was killed in Iraq.

We've got an exclusive clip from the movie where the four men are traveling by train on the way to the fallen Marine's funeral.

"Last Flag Flying" is based on the novel by Daryl Ponicsan that was a sequel to his Vietnam-era novel "The Last Detail." That novel was the basis for Hal Ashby's classic 1973 movie starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young and Randy Quaid. but this movie isn't a sequel. Linklater and Ponicsan reworked some details and created new characters who are loosely connected but aren't the same guys from the original movie.

Steve Carell plays Larry 'Doc' Shepard, a widower whose only son joined the Marines even though his dad was dishonorably discharged from the Navy over an incident in Vietnam. After Larry, Jr. is killed in Iraq, Doc goes on a road trip to track down his war buddies Sal Nealon (Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Fishburne) to ask their help as he goes to bury his son.

Mueller has tried to run away from his "Mad Dog" nickname, becoming a minister and trying to forget his past. Sal is the guy who's tried desperately to stay exactly the same over the years. The movie's plot is about getting the real story of Larry's death and Doc's attempts to deal with the military bureaucracy and whether to bury his son at Arlington.

Much like Linklater's other recent films ("Boyhood," "Everybody Wants Some!!"), "Last Flag Flying" is about the relationships between the characters. Everyone in the film changes as they are reminded of their pasts as they spend time with each other and the young Marine who served with Doc's son. It's a great tribute to the bond of service and the bonds between generations of those who serve.

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