The Last Castle
A vapid recruitment film seemingly funded through back channels by the Republican Party, The Last Castle may benefit from its release in this apprehensively patriotic moment. It flagrantly steals the first chapters of Sidney Lumet's 1965 gem The Hill, twiddles its thumbs for two hours, and finally shifts into Jerry Bruckheimer overdrive. Court-martialed Gen. Irwin (Robert Redford) arrives shackled at a military prison commanded by Col. Winter (James Gandolfini, who distinguishes Winter from Tony Soprano with better enunciation). Winter once idolized Irwin, but the two clash as Irwin leads the inmates in reclaiming their stripped ranks and self-respect. As propaganda, the film is smart enough to make the U.S. military both the good guys and the bad guys, leaving departing audiences suitably assured that the few bad apples have been pruned and our armed forces are once again pure. Director and West Point graduate Rod Lurie (The Contender) identifies himself as an A-1 reactionary with this bomb, no doubt the first in a new wave of films revolving around uniformed men saluting, defending flags, and calling each other by their last names.