Thirty-four years after his death, Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr. (Jeremy Irvine) is awarded the nation’s highest military honor, for his actions on the battlefield.
Before I went in to see The Last Full Measure, I was worried that I was going to be getting a painfully dull surface level movie. That synopsis did not sound enticing to me whatsoever, but I was still holding out some hope for this film. Todd Robinson’s latest feature admittedly has a stacked and talented cast, which is probably the aspect that I was most excited for. From the likes of Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Plummer, and Ed Harris, the cast seemed quite promising. Why would all of these A-list actors come together for one movie if it wasn’t going to be good?
Sadly, I find myself asking the same exact question even after seeing The Last Full Measure; a movie with all the best intentions and definitely tells the story of a remarkable man, but it just does not tell it in the most exciting or captivating way.
The screenplay is written in such a way where we are never really shown anything extraordinary or inspiring. This should have been a deeply moving and emotional journey, but it instead just feels like a boring walk in the park. A large portion of the film is just characters talking to one another with nothing exciting going on dialogue-wise. I am completely okay with what they like to call “talking movies”; movies that practically only showcase dialogue with no “exciting” sequences. One of my favorite “talking movies” in recent years is Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. That movie was chalked full of dialogue that was smart, thought-provoking and riveting. This is the opposite, however.
The problem is that the dialogue that we are given here is not anything to get up and excited about. It tells this truthfully remarkable story in such a bland and forgettable way, and it is ultimately a movie that you will forget about incredibly quickly after leaving the theatre.
This is the very definition of a style over substance film. The editing, while admittedly impressive, is done in a way to make the film feel more grand as a whole, but in reality, it just isn’t. It feels heavily pretentious.
But don’t get me wrong. This is by no means a truly awful film or anything like that. It isn’t good, but it does have some good things in it. One of those is by far the acting. Every single one of the cast members delivers a gratefully terrific performance, with perhaps my favorite one coming from none other than Sebastian Stan himself. He feels considerably reserved in the role of Scott Huffman. His performance reminded me that he is genuinely one of the most underappreciated actors working in the industry right now.
It is not just him that is great in this movie either though. Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Christopher Plummer all deliver expert performances too. Like I talked about earlier, all of these actors are incredibly talented and have been working in this industry for a long time. Some of them for several decades. I was expecting them to be good here, and they definitely are.
Another positive here is the musical score by Philip Klein. It feels quite, reserved, calm, yet powerful all at the same time. Byron Werner’s cinematography is also something to acknowledge. It is nothing out of this world, but it does the job at selling these locations depicted throughout the film and it was pleasing to look at.
The Last Full Measure fumbles at telling a remarkably powerful story with its bland screenplay that often feels like style over substance.
Overall Grade: C-
MPAA Rating: R for war violence, and language
Directed by: Todd Robinson
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: January 24, 2020
Running Time: 110 minutes