The Last Castle

by

comment

So often these days, watching a movie means pinpointing how many other movies it references — and The Last Castle is a cross between Stalag 17 and Cool Hand Luke with a dash of Amadeus. In the moments before the first meeting between Col. Winter (James Gandolfini), the warden of a maximum-security military prison dubbed “the castle,” and Gen. Irwin (Robert Redford), the distinguished soldier who will become his most troublesome inmate, the colonel’s office is filled with the classical music not of Mozart, but Salieri.

It’s obvious that Winter, a fussy functionary who fastidiously collects military paraphernalia and has risen through the ranks without seeing battle, is like Amadeus’ court composer: Able but not inspired, manipulative enough to get himself elevated, but so afraid of real talent and initiative that he quashes any potential rivals. But Irwin is the real deal, a born leader whose battle strategies are models of original thinking and brave execution, a soft-spoken man ready to do his time for committing the ultimate crime: letting down his men. Their battle for supremacy will be a bloody one, because neither man is prepared to lose.

The Last Castle is an odd pastiche of genres, a prison story crossed with a war film, an action movie which is about pride, not reward. Director and West Point graduate Rod Lurie (Deterrence, The Contender) doesn’t necessarily embrace Irwin’s utopian vision (the castle as a fortress, not a prison), but firmly believes that the best thing for these inmates is to allow them to become soldiers again.

Honor is what’s at stake here and Lurie clearly understands its importance. Yet he’s unable to inject this story with the gravity it so desperately needs. Which makes The Last Castle seem little more than an elaborate game of capture the flag.

Visit the official The Last Castle Web site at www.thelastcastle.com.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at letters@metrotimes.com.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.