Linklater missed the mark on this one. His wonderful dialogue is barely in this film. It's replaced by confused ideologies and I'm-a-flawed-individualisms. It isn't that interesting visually, and doesn't capture their buddy energy at all. They let politics and arguments we've all heard thousands of times before override the characters.
"The Last Detail" is one of my very favorite of the 1970s and you immediately see the link between the two films. But Linklater is not Ashby. He applies here his usual method, letting long dialogues go on, with minimum staging and cutting to interfere. It works on a certain level (thanks to an amazing Steve Carell) and the film is emotional but limited. Linklater is maybe not as good a writer as he thinks he is.
I kinda wanted more from Linklater's latest but it feels like the director himself is becoming less and less interested in his characters as we are going along in the film. It still has some really funny and touching stuff in it. It is the over present theme of patriotism that keeps this film from being great.
Hampered by a screenplay that is full of groan-worthy contrivance, way too much weak dialogue, and characters painted in broad brushstrokes, we can thank a thoughtful and staid directorial hand for ultimately delivering a film rife w/ powerful human moments. You say "male bonding," I reach for my pistol, but if it's Linklater doing camaraderie, I'll always take a look. Cranston flounders in a thankless role.
Carell is a wonder, portraying a deeply relatable and numb sort of unwillingness to face loss head-on. The film, as a whole, unfortunately does the same with its major themes. While Linklater, by way of Ponicsan, seems to be trying to explore America's jingoistic patriotism, his unfocused approach makes the film glib and far too messy for its own good. Johnson is good, Fishburne great, Cranston a showy disaster.
A signature Linklater in that characters are fleshed out through spontaneous, hanging-out style dialogue. The performances are great and its scope is admirably taut. It is one-dimensional, but this is justified for its personal--though unevolved--nature. 79/100 - Very Good. (3.5)
Richard Linklater continues to produce one fantastic film after another- this specific one being a great study of depression and post war trauma. While the cast is overall great, the standout for me is Steve Carrell, giving a subtle, internal performance that is never flashy nor draws attention to itself.
A Richard Linklater film about the human touch and the importance of being present for your friends when time is fleeting and tragedy strikes sounds like the most meta Linklater film ever, but unsurprisingly, one of the best, most quintessential American directors working today — armed with a trifecta of Oscar-worthy talent from Oscar-worthy performances — makes it all work.
Richard Linklater is the master of the hangout, and though he—more than any American director—has gotten away with explicitly philosophical dialogue, his latest is at its best when its old-timers are shootin' the shit instead of making big political statements. As it explicitly reconciles patriotism with cynicism, it becomes a fitting tribute to the cinema of the 70s, when American lives were so exalted a subject.