A Full Metal Jacket with sincerity and emotions.
“The Last Full Measure” is based on a true story about how Vietnam Hero William H. Pitsenbarger was posthumously given the Medal of Honor years after his demise on the battlefield. I never heart of this solider, but for saving the lives of some soldiers in April 11, 1966, he deserved to be commended for his valor.
Based on the poster, I was sort of expecting the film to be corny, but once I watched it, I underwent a change of heart. This is actually a thoroughly touching and intriguingly complex drama with a spot-on cast. Whether or not you’re a war vet, you’re able to find something special inside “The Last Full Measure,” and I was surprised how moved I was by it.
A government lawyer and family man named Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) is assigned to do a medal report on Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), as requested by his war buddy Tully (William Hurt), and his parents (Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd). He knows nothing on this soldier, but reluctantly agrees to get him his long-overdue award.
It sounds like something out of either a corny Christian drama or some high school episode, where the writer has to learn about a specific figure in history. But once we get to know the guy who learns about Pitsenbarger, we acknowledge he’s worthy of being part of this story. Stan is excellent in this role, while Plummer and Ladd both offer sentimental value during his visits with them.
The other soldiers he interviews consist of Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), who earned the Silver Star while surviving getting shot in his back, Ray Mott (Ed Harris), who survived getting shot in the head, and Jimmy Burr (the late Peter Fonda in his final role), who sleeps during the day because of his PTSD. They share their experiences with Pitsenbarger, while reflecting on their faults and pains. In fact, they wonder why he had to die and they didn’t. Because he had to save them. Given the acting from Jackson, Harris, Fonda, and Hurt, we really feel their characters’ traumas.
“The Last Full Measure” doesn’t waste its stars just to grab movie-goers; it allows them to portray characters affected by William Pitsenbarger’s bravery. Even if Irvine’s portrayal is seen too quickly during combat and even if Bradley Whitford has to portray Scott’s generic boss, we still are able to learn about the hero and his fellow soldiers.
Written and directed by Todd Robinson, the movie is able to overpower anyone’s cynicisms and allow them to change their hearts and perspectives about it. Again, the poster makes it look standard, but inside, it has a lot of heart and characters you sympathize about. The lawyer is putting his career at risk getting the story told, and the interviewees all must overcome their pasts in order to get it told. And it doesn’t paint itself all hammy and cheap.
And about this featuring Fonda’s farewell performance, when we think of him, we’ll always remember him for “Easy Rider” and “Ulee’s Gold.” And his last scene in “The Last Full Measure” brings tears to your eyes. He’ll surely be missed.