The Last Castle (15)

Review by Simon Bell

IT seems, then, that explosions and warfare are acceptable at the movies again. Initially put on hold, but then let out the bag with vigour in light of the pro-military mood sweeping the Western world following war on Afghanistan, The Last Castle reaches these shores alongside Black Hawk Down and Behind Enemy Lines.

While the other two look likely to be soaring UK box office successes, Rod Lurie's Robert Redford vehicle can only be reported missing in action. And so emphatically is this film preoccupied with the Stars and Stripes that it runs the danger of falling embarrassingly and desperately flat. It does.

Redford is the highly decorated General Irwin - grizzled Golden Boy hero of Nam, the Gulf and Bosnia - sentenced to ten years at maximum security military prison for disobeying Presidential orders while on a mission in Burundi.

Arriving at the dank and decrepit Tennesseean hell-hole, the distinguished and well-respected author of The Burden of Command meets the corrupt and sadistic bully Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini with much heavy nasal breathing a la Tony Soprano). He then battles him for supremacy and the respect of his fallen hero comrades.

As is plays out its power struggle, the concept arrives at nothing that wasn't expected and reaches only the most simple-minded conclusions. Totally implausible.

Rod Lurie came under fire for his last outing, White House thriller "The Contender", possibly unfairly. Strangely enough, the director earned honours as a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. Could he be living out a fantasy on others time and money?

And Redford playing a flawed and defeated has-been…? It hurts to say, but is someone telling us something?