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The Last Castle
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Last Castle More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not bad at all.

8/10
Author: CharltonBoy
6 August 2003

This is not the sort of film that you would expect Robert Redford to do but i'm glad he did because all in all this is a highly enjoyable movie.It's great to see James Gandolfini getting some top film roles too after his brilliant performances in the Sopranos.Here he plays the roll of a military prison governor who after taking in a top ranking officer as a prisoner starts to lose his grip on the prison he runs. Although a lot of what goes on is very far fetched this film is none the less very entertaining and the 130 minutes soon flies by. Better than i expected. 8 out of 10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Strange resemblence to 1965 "The Hill"

Author: kregnichols from London
2 June 2003

I was just watching the 1965 Sean Connery movie when I realized it had a remarkable resemblance to "The Last Castle" Connery plays a distinguished Sergeant Major who has been sent to a British Military prison for striking an officer. He faces the brutality of the commendant. This commendant kills a man via the strennous regimen the men are forced to endure day in a day out. My opinion after seeing both is you are better off watching "The Hill" with Connery

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Ridiculous, and a total waste of time

Author: Uri Adelman from Israel
29 March 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***SPOILERS ALARM***

What a waste. How come such an intelligent people can participate in such a bad movie! The main (and fatal) problem is, of course, the script. It is so full of clichés, so illogical, so - why not say it - stupid, that it insults the audience. It could easily pass as a parody on patriotic jail movies.

And the ending. Come on! Give us a LITTLE credit. The worst soap opera is preferable, because soap operas do not pretend to be what they are not.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Even if you normally dislike war films, this one is worth viewing. You might be surprised.

Author: rsisson11 from Dallas, Texas
17 January 2003

I felt this was the best performance by Robert Redford in a long time. He said so much in this film by saying relatively little, which somehow works for him. This film presents a positive message which I interpreted as, "Even when you have seemingly lost everything, hold onto your self respect and stand up for what you believe in." This film also drives home that once a soldier, always a soldier. I, for one, am a sucker for the American Flag that flew beautifully in this film.

With renewed patriotism in this country post 9/11/01, there have been so many patriotic/war movies come our way of late. This movie, although made prior to 9/11 is refreshingly different. It will put a tear in your eye and a little choke in your throat without the overwhelming amount of blood and guts seen in films like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Behind Enemy Lines," not that I am comparing this film to SPR or BEL in any other way.

For those General Hospital fans out there, it was nice to see Steve Burton (Jason) in a role so tailored for his stoic persona. Now we know what he was up to while on "leave" from G.H. a few years ago.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Terrific Performances + Implausibilities/Bad Ending = Good Movie That Could Have Been Great

7/10
Author: 102AFalcon from Alexandria, VA
24 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Contains Spoilers!! THE LAST CASTLE is the kind of good near-miss film that, in a way, is much more frustrating than a film that is truly and unredeemably awful. People watch a film like KUNG POW! ENTER THE FIST and know (if they hated the film--I'm assuming most people who saw that abomination didn't like it very much) that nothing could have been done to save it. But THE LAST CASTLE is a movie that's faraway and so close; the things in it that work aren't blotted out by the stuff that doesn't, but they are overshadowed to an unfortunate extent.

What works? Simply put, the performances, especially the lead performances, are superb. Robert Redford has never had a problem playing characters who are leaders, who are used to getting what they want. The brilliant twist on that, presented through General Eugene Irwin, is that Redford doesn't just start out not really wanting anything, he basically finishes the film that way too. Oh, he wants Colonel Winter to lose his job and to give the ex-soldiers in the prison their pride and respect back, but he wants nothing for himself--after he concedes that he will not have a chance to have a relationship with his daugher and grandson. That 1 scene with Robin Wright Penn ends up selling, believably, Irwin's turn from wanting to do his time quietly to being a martyr for the cause of others. He doesn't even seem to hate Winter that much, he's just disgusted by him, and driven to show that he's a better military man at 10% of his resources than Winter is at 100%. Mr. Redford is great at showing a man who lives for the burden of command, even though that burden has left him imprisoned and could kill him.

James Gandolfini is even better as Winter. It's very interesting, the way Mr. Gandolfini changes his persona so subtly to fit the role of Winter. Obviously, one difference is that his voice is almost deathly silent, a fair cry from the booming rage/joy/commanding nature of Tony Soprano, but his voice is also leeched of emotion; there's none of the introspection and black humor his Leroy had in THE MEXICAN. Something bad happened to Winter (never revealed explicitly what that was) that ruined him. He knows that he is all that he can be and that it's not nearly enough, and that Irwin either has the parts he's missing or had the life that enabled him to find them. The brilliant development in Rod Lurie's script is seeing how much Winter hates himself, and is ultimately not surprised that Irwin doesn't even care enough to hate him in return. This was an Oscar-caliber turn by Mr. Gandolfini. The other performances are on the sides, but Mark Ruffalo, Frank Military, Clifton Collins, and Steve Burton are all great in roles with rich characterization but limited screen time. And Delroy Lindo commands the screen in his brief turn as a General who doesn't even try to hide that he believes every word of Irwin's over Winter's.

That's what drives the first 3/4 of THE LAST CASTLE and is very compelling. Unfortunately, 90 minutes of terrific filmmaking are badly undercut by the poor finale. Oh, in a dramatic sense this kind of climax is good, and the final scene is actually good, but the action scenes here are pathetic. There's no clear sense of action, the items the prisoners use are deus ex machina overkill, and the climactic effort (by Ruffalo's helicopter pilot) had me snickering when I should have been enthralled. So it was a mixed bag, but when a movie keeps you going for most of a 2 hours+ length and has such great acting, it gets a positive overall review.

Note: Some folks have criticized the "flag-waving" material in the film and said it reeked of hyper-patriotism after 9/11. THE LAST CASTLE finished filming long before 9/11, and the emphasis on the American flag in the plot of this movie is not only appropriate, but intelligent in showing the role of the flag in military leadership. Ironically, the early posters for THE LAST CASTLE featured an upside-down American flag (the distress signal), which were quickly (and also appropriately) changed after 9/11 to ones with Redford's and Gandolfini's faces.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Poor idea and even poorer execution.

3/10
Author: farleygrainer from colorado
13 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Last Castle tries to show that there is good in everyone. Many of these prisoners apparently committed serious crimes. Yet, here they are as "good guys". Robert Redford, as the defrocked general doesn't seem to believe the plot either. I didn't think that James Gandolfini as the prison warden was as bad or evil as the writers tried to make him out to be. He had to contend with some very bad people in prison, and yes, he might have been a little brutal. However, how else does one act toward buildings full of psychopaths?

Warning: Spoiler coming up......

How did the prisoners build the trebuchet in the prison without anyone noticing? It was a fairly large machine. We are not told how and where this weapon and all of the other weapons were constructed. I found this to be the most unbelievable part of the movie.

All in all, I thought that this movie was a waste of good talent due to the poor script.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very American - but still pretty good

7/10
Author: SamRag from New Zealand
31 July 2002

Even though this film suffers from admiring everything without question that is American (Flag, the Army, Ranks...), this was a pleasure to watch. Robert Redford was the right choice as he represent as an actor the same sort of admiration as the caracter he plays. James Gandolfini was also great, making his caracter a person - instead of just the "bad guy". There are sadly not many surprises in the film, and not much originality. What saves the film though is solid acting and beautiful film shoots.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A laughable, implausible feel-good remake of a quality film

Author: bernie minim (alkmst451@aol.com) from Chantilly, Virginia
11 July 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am fan of both Robert Redford and James Gandolfini(at least pre-Sopranos,) and although I knew this was a Hollywoodized remake of a really good movie, I expected it to be at least passable. I saw it recently on DVD. What a joke. They are all really good at heart, just misunderstood. As though a military prison runs with the same lack of discipline as a civilian one. And (MINOR SPOILER, I suppose) just where did they hide the trebuchet? Anyway, see the original, "The Hill,(1965)" with Sean Connery. No explosions, b&w, no feel good ending, but a movie to remember.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Shawshank wannabe fails in the script.

4/10
Author: Lee Bartholomew (sage_patrynxx@cfu.net) from Cedar Falls, IA
10 June 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The only person in this movie that's good is Robert Redford. Thats it. Go watch Spy Game. This movie is a tad far fetched.

There really three instances of glaring mistakes in this film.

(spoilers??)

1. What happened to Yates for him to change his mind about being a snitch? Never truely developed this idea on either side.

2. Towards the end, the main officer gives the command for Doc to help Irwin. Then another officer contradicts the command and forcibly removes doc from Irwin. That was a headache. WTF was that about? Why write it into the movie?

3. The most glaring idiotic moves was where they hid the weapons. You would think this area would be heavily guarded or watched. How could they get away with hiding all those weapons in the wall rock pile? For an awfully smart bunch of soldiers (skip the head bad dude) they either were too stupid or ignored what they saw. (much like the WTC FBI/CIA screw up.... whoops.. did I let a political idea into this review?? oops)

So in the end, while I thought some of the performances were decent, nothing to help this movie for it's bad writing.

I have even worse things to say about the dvd design. It's a slapdash design. I hate it. It'll give you a darn good headache trying to navigate it. Again Spy Game beats them in this department as well. Especially in it's easter egg dept.

4/10

Quality: 2/10 Entertainment: 7/10 Replayable: 4/10

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"What we've got here is...

Author: panzerphil
12 May 2002

...failure to make something original"

As a big fan of prison movies (er...Lesbian B movies being the exception), I was thoroughly disappointed with this feature. This followed the identical play book Cool Hand Luke.

- man enters prison - man becomes inspiration to other inmates - man turns prison on its ear - man unjustly killed at the end

Also I find it very hard to believe that a Major General would be sent to military prison. More than likely the general would be sent off to pasture with pension of course. It is also unlikely that a military prison would have just guards with shotguns manning the towers.

The only redeeming quality here was of course Robert Redford, whose talent could even spark some excitement into a documentary on the mating habits of the Cuban Tree Frog.

In all, Last Castle is very disappointing...considering that it came from the same studio that produced Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator.

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