The Last CastleOctober 19, 2001
A Court Martialed general rallies together 1200 inmates to rise against the system that put him away.
Release Year: 2001
Rating: 6.6/10 (29,015 voted)
Critic's Score: 43/100
Stars: Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo
When three star General Irwin is transferred to a maximum security military prison, its warden, Colonel Winter, can't hide his admiration towards the highly decorated and experienced soldier. Irwin has been stripped of his rank for disobedience in a mission, but not of fame. Colonel Winter, who runs the prison with an iron fist, deeply admires the General, but works with completely different methods in order to keep up discipline. After a short while, Irwin can feel Winter's unjust treatment of the inmates. He decides to teach Winter a lesson by taking over command of the facility and thus depriving him of his smug attitude. When Winter decides to participate in what he still thinks of as a game, it may already be too late to win.
Writers: David Scarpa, David Scarpa
Lt. Gen. Eugene Irwin
(as Samuel Ball)
Clifton Collins Jr.
Cpl. Ramon Aguilar
George W. Scott
Doc Lee Bernard
A castle can only have one king
Release Date: 19 October 2001
Filming Locations: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $7,088,213
(21 October 2001)
(16 December 2001)
Did You Know?
In the opening minutes of the movie, Colonel Winters (James Gandolfini) remarks "My God, they should be naming a base after him!", referring to the arriving prisoner General Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford). Actually, the US Army already has a Fort Irwin, located in the Mojave Desert in California, although it is named for Major General George LeRoy Irwin.
When the Colonel is looking out his window to see a helicopter fly by, the American Flag is not moving, even though there is a helicopter flying right next to it.
Take a look at a castle. Any castle. Now break down the key elements that make it a castle. They haven't changed in a thousand years. 1: Location. A site on high ground that commands the territory as far as the eye can see. 2: Protection. Big walls, walls strong enough to withstand a frontal attack…
The Farcical Castle
The Last Castle was a good movie – until it got pillow-fartingly
A military prison. Warden: Tony Soprano. (Anyone who writes to me,
explaining the distinction between an actor's character name and his
real name will get a reply explaining the distinction between hebetude
and tongue-in-cheek.) New inmate: profusely-decorated 3-star general
Robert Redford. Theme: Battle-theorist (Tony, battle memorabilia
collector) versus battle veteran (Redford, whose field credits include
the Gulf and other inane political coups). Premise: Inmate Redford
takes a dislike to the way Warden Tony disses his marine and army peeps
behind bars, so launches a prison revolt, inmates rallying behind him
due to his iron-fisted reputation and rakish good looks.
Let the farce begin.
Requisite character stereotypes abound: Aguilar, the dim bulb; Yates,
the amoral prison bookie; the fallen-from-grace doctor, the big black
guy, the big white guy, the big guy of uncertain ethnic descent and the
token Latino guy. Redford coaxes The Patriot from this ragtag band of
uncertain heroes, twisting Tony's panties into cat's cradles in the
For we who came to see Tony Soprano bust a move other than his renowned
Gansta Rap, we were not prepared for the impotent swab his warden
character turned out to be – even as a 'character actor playing against
type', Tony was reined in by director Joe Lurie to such an extent that
even when the situation warranted explosive retaliation during the
siege, Tony simply sulked around his crumbling office in a prissy rage.
Saluting is not allowed amongst prisoners in a military prison –
something to do with loss of rank and lack of hairspray. Redford's
clichéd one-liners evokes inmate-saluting soon enough, causing big
trouble in Little Italy. Which leads to Redford's punishment: to bare
his virile, octogenarian man-torso (we're talking' carpet-chest that
makes Paul Stanley's look like a bowling green) and to move a pile of
rocks from here to there. With his blond ambition and undeniable
desirability to prison men of all persuasions, Redford turns this
punishment into yet another spectacle with which to win over the hearts
of his fellow crims.
All the philosophy, chess-playing and tough love comes from the
convicted criminal in this film – Redford – so the viewer is cajoled
into rooting for the WRONG side. The attempts at tear-jerking and
patriotism and brotherhood are completely misplaced by the fact that
this bake sale is held – in a JAIL. And the good guys.are the bad guys.
When was the last time you supported a prison revolt, replete with
murder and destruction of taxpayer property, cheering on the cons in
their noble cause to usurp authority?
Redford uses Tony's own armaments against him; the water-cannon, the
trebuchet (the wha-?). This last weapon turned up out of nowhere, like
Monty Python's Trojan Rabbit, when the plot had degenerated to guys
running around and burning things, and the director thought no one
would notice the appearance of a construct that literally cannot be
hidden anywhere on prison grounds. (The Great Escape this ain't.)
Checkmate is to capture the warden's American flag and fly it upside
down, which denotes a distress signal, a concept which they make
abundantly clear through the dialog of about twenty people. Okay – I
heard you the SEVENTH time – so if the American flag winds up flying
upside down, nobody's a terrorist or anti-American – sheesh!
To cap this farce with the seal of disbelief, these guys don't even
want to escape – they just want another warden. I got news for you,
guys: the warden may change, but the JOB-DESCRIPTION remains the same,
i.e. it's his DUTY to retain your low self-esteem, disorientation and
to KEEP YOU IN JAIL. Changing the management amounts to nothing more
than amending the names on the doors and letterheads. Of all people,
you military perps should understand that in contravening The System's
laws, you yourselves have empowered The System to isolate you from it.
A prison is NOT a democracy – at least, not the last time I was in one.
Since when do we grant prisoners the expertise to diagnose anti-social
behavior in a warden? Or the inalienable right to OVERTHROW the prison
if they "don't like the conditions"? Yeh, jail sucks – it's meant to!
In the final scene, Redford flashbacks to his Sundance Kid days, as an
army trains their rifles on him in the rec yard, waiting for the word
from Don Soprano to bake his ziti. Redford carries the folded flag
stolen from Tony's office, and word on the street was that he was gonna
raise that puppy upside down, thereby broadcasting Tony's incompetence
to the Five Families. So Tony must stop him at all costs; he faces
Redford, staunchly: 'Give me back my flag!'
Redford: 'It's not 'your' flag.' Ouch! – now that was so patriotic, it
made my thighs supple. Sundance strides to the flagpole and resolutely
starts raising the flag, as Tony is screaming at his men to shoot him
down – but of course, each rifleman's dreams were now rife with
frolicking in that snowy-white chest-jungle with the blue-eyed
avenger-general who defied a mob boss. They lower their weapons – and
it is up to The Jersey Godfather to whack Boy Redford. Of course, he is
arrested immediately by his lieutenant; something to do with The Law –
The Law which they suddenly want to adhere to, after not giving it a
moment's thought during the last hour's siege.
Camera pans up the flagpole and – the flag is flying, proud and true –
RIGHT SIDE UP. And the convicts salute it. And the guards salute it.
And the music swells, as Redford dies with a smile, flag fluttering in
battle-smoke breeze, cheese glutting all Exit doors.
Probably the best advice one could offer to someone contemplating
viewing this movie – Fuggedaboudit!
(Movie Maniacs, visit: www.poffysmoviemania.com)