Matt’s Flick Pick: ‘The Last Castle’

Dreamworks Productions

Dreamworks Productions

Matt Merchant

In any movie, when you throw a guy like Robert Redford in jail – especially when he’s a likable, war-torn, three-star general in the U.S. Army – expect a good story. With “The Last Castle,” you get everything. Yes, it’s a military movie: There’s guns, there’s fighting and there’s explosions. However, in the midst of all that, there’s emotion. There’s authentic characters. There’s story.

Redford’s Eugene Irwin is serving time at a maximum-security military prison, the Castle, for disobeying a direct order. He saved his men, who die in combat after someone higher in authority orders them to battle. Under the watchful eye of a sadistic warden, Col. Winter, played by James Gandolfini, Irwin begins to witness the corrupt system inside the Castle. “You are no longer soldiers,” the men are told. They are forced to rebuild the old prison walls, stone by stone. They are brutalized, beaten, and treated inhumanely.

This is the story of genuine authority. When does one cease to be a soldier? How does someone earn true respect? What makes a man, a man? Is it right to rebel against a corrupt system? What makes a true leader?

In the midst of playing chess – a literal symbol for the Castle, the warden and the soldiers – Irwin begins teaching the men strategy and the truth about military honor. But he also teaches them humanity and the true meaning of a warrior’s sacrifice.

Contact Matt Merchant at [email protected].