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The Last Castle

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Last Castle

Starring: Robert Redford, James Gandolfini
Director: Rod Lurie
Rated: R
RunTime: 131 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genres: Action, Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Mark Ruffalo, Samuel Ball, Steve Burton, Clifton Collins Jr., Brian Goodman, Paul Calderon

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Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

Oscar alert! This high-tension military prison drama is the first real contender of the Fall season. The story begins as idolized but court-martialed three-star Army General Irwin (Robert Redford) is delivered in handcuffs to a maximum-security military prison run by Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini) whose stunned reaction is: "They should be naming a base after the man, not sending him here." A proud West Point graduate who pled guilty to disobeying a direct order, Irwin is resigned to spending time incarcerated in the stockade, telling fellow inmates: "I'm not fighting anyone for anything any more." But he's soon appalled by the brutal, sadistic manipulative techniques used by the psychotic, power-mad Colonel. "We are soldiers - and no one can take that away from us," he finally declares, igniting guerrilla warfare against injustice within the penal system, culminating in redemption and the triumph of the human spirit. Screenwriters David Scarpa and Graham Yost set up a classic dramatic confrontation over leadership since the plight of the protagonist is only as tough as the antagonist makes it. Director Ron Lurie infuses the film with a resonating tension, pitting Robert Redford, as the intense, charismatic hero whose quiet, understated dignity transforms his desperate, dispirited cohorts into defiant yet disciplined soldiers, against James Gandolfini, who carries the warden to the brink of hardcore villainy with the will and ability to kill as many prisoners as necessary to retain control. Mark Ruffalo scores as an opportunistic bookie, Clifton Collins Jr. as an abused inmate, and Delroy Lindo as Irwin's former colleague. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Last Castle" is a powerful 10. It's compelling, crowd-pleasing escapist entertainment with a patriotic, flag-waving finale.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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