by Nav Qateel
Written and directed by Bo Brinkman, Last Man Club is a road-trip movie that follows the exploits of John "Eagle" Pennell, an elderly World War 2 veteran who's tired of being a burden on his son and daughter-in-law. After receiving a letter from an old war buddy, Eagle slips away and hits the road. What follows is a heartwarming, and occasionally heartbreaking story of comradeship, honor, and family relationships. But more importantly, it's also about our war veterans, and how in their twilight years and after serving their country, they can feel unwanted, or worse, useless.
Last Man Club opens at the VA hospital in Galveston, Texas, where WW2 veteran Pete Williams (Barry Corbin) is being strapped into a hospital bed. Pete is terminally ill with only a few months left, and all he wants to do is die with dignity. Because of his behavior, the doctor in charge of Pete's particular case is planning to ship him off to the psych hospital. A sympathetic nurse helps Pete send off a letter to his old war buddy Eagle (James MacKrell), where Pete reminds Eagle of the oath they once took.
When we catch up with Eagle, he and son John (Michael Massee) are arguing after Eagle goes out for a walk without telling anyone. When father and son get home, Eagle reads the letter from Pete, but throws it in the trash after reading Pete's plea for help. Things finally come to a head when Eagle floods the bathroom causing the ceiling to collapse. Upon overhearing John and daughter-in-law Hilary (Amy Kay Raymond) argue over sending him to a retirement home, Eagle gets in his vintage Ford Fairlane and heads for Texas, picking up some of his old bomber crew on the way. Without a current driver's licence and half-blind without his glasses, Eagle finds himself being hunted by various authorities after he picks up Romy, a hooker who's on the run for attempted murder and robbery.
Eagle and grandson Taylor (Blaze Tucker) have a special bond, the type of strong bond that grandsons only seem to share with their grandfathers. Because son John and Eagle have drifted apart, with Taylor also feeling alienated from his dad, Eagle and Taylor have even more in common. Eagle trusts Taylor enough to tell him where he's going, and even when pressured by his dad, Taylor refuses to give up his old grandfather's whereabouts. The relationship and sub-story covering the outcome of three generations of the Pennell men, was just one such example of how well Last Man Club has been written. Then there's the relationship between what remains of Eagle's B-17 crew, and the unexpected friendship that forms between Eagle and working girl Romy. Interwoven within the dramatic plot is some genuine humor and occasional thrills, all balanced out in such a way that the film seems to just fly by.
What becomes immediately apparent, is that Last Man Club has been put together by people who care deeply and passionately about the project. Bo Brinkman has created a collection of truly wonderful characters who we quickly become attached to and root for. For fans of old movies this film is an absolute treat, as we get to watch four wonderful, mature actors perform together, namely James MacKrell, William Morgan Sheppard, Barry Corbin, and last but by no means least, Richard Riehle. It's worth the price of a ticket just to see our heroes in a genuine B-17 near the end of the film. The writing and attention to detail is especially good, like Eagle's relationship with his grandson, or the hunt that Eagle has for a pair of glasses. As with the writing and directing, the acting was of the highest quality, which is to be expected with thespians of this calibre. Another thing that really sold me on this film was the fantastic chemistry between James MacKrell and Kate French. Also, watch out for a host of familiar faces in small cameos. Jake Busey plays Will's bullying boss, but gets taken care of by Romy. William McNamara plays a gun-toting pimp, and is the reason Romy is being hunted for attempted murder. British actor Gianni Capaldi nails a mid-western accent performing one of the cops looking for our pair of fugitives. Michael Madsen even has a couple of small but memorable scenes.
Not to be missed!
Last Man Club opens on Friday, May 27th, Memorial Day weekend at select theaters.Share: