From CASABLANCA to MIDWAY, all great war movies have at least one element in common: They feature emotional stories that anchor the explosive action. Todd Robinson's THE LAST FULL MEASURE follows suit and puts a focused lens on PTSD and the painful process of healing.
Set in 1999 and based on a true story, THE LAST FULL MEASURE looks back on Operation Abilene, the bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War. Though the event occurred more than 30 years ago, the surviving soldiers still carry the effects of that horrific day in 1966.
One man in particular is on a mission of justice: Master sergeant Tulley (William Hurt) approaches arrogant Department of Defense lawyer Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) with a request to award, posthumously, the Medal of Honor to William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force pararescuemen who personally saved over sixty men.
Huffman reluctantly sets out to interview the Army veterans who witnessed Pitsenbarger’s extraordinary valor, including Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda) and Mott (Ed Harris). Through their stories, Huffman learns of Pitsenbarger's courageous acts and incredible sacrifice — and a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal.
Though THE LAST FULL MEASURE uses flashbacks of the war to tell the soldiers' multiple perspectives, the heart of the film is how all of the men are connected and affected by this tragedy. Through the interview process, they are allowed to face their personal demons and grieve not only for their fallen comrade, but also for themselves. The Medal of Honor becomes a symbol of healing, the closing of a chapter for all of them. Even Huffman is transformed by the end of the film.
Each of the actors deliver emotional performances, and Robinson gives each of their stories the attention they deserve. Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd, who play Pitsenbarger's parents, add a softness that balances out the other characters' anger and guilt — though, those emotions have their rightful place in the story, too.
THE LAST FULL MEASURE is worthy of a screening in theatres, so make sure you get your tickets for the opening, January 24.