"The Last Full Measure" Review

Sebastian Stan fans may be excited to learn that a new film starring Stan, The Last Full Measure, has been released in a modest amount of theatres. They may be less excited upon actually seeing it due to how lukewarm and meandering the finished product is.

Stan portrays Scott Huffman, a Pentagon employee tasked with investigating a case for a deceased Vietnam War soldier William H. Pitsenbarger that is mysteriously being deprived of a Medal of Honor that he had been on track to receive. A conspiracy in Washington DC should prove for a tense, dramatic viewing experience but the film fails to convey the necessary urgency that such a premise requires. Films like Official Secrets or Dark Waters were far more effective in building dramatic tension and suspense as the heroes dive deep into cover-ups and corruption. A large part of why The Last Full Measure is ineffective in this area is that it tries to do too many things, and consequently stretches itself too thin.

Scott Huffman is the audience's lens into the fictional world and a hero that should be rooted for. However, the writing fails to effectively introduce him before later dumping out exposition to claim that he has undergone some sort of development and transformation. There are lines of dialogue thrown out that claim he used to be highly career-driven and lacking in the necessary empathy to follow through on his investigation if it will risk a big promotion for his own career. However, the bulk of his character introduction shows him to be a loving husband and father with a new baby on the way, and a person willing to listen to the veterans he interviews for the case and let them open up on their own terms. There's never any doubt in the story that he will give up trying to help the veterans he is speaking to.

The film also shows repeated flashbacks to the day of combat on which Pitsenbarger displayed the bravery and velour that he is meant to be rewarded for. The overall flow of jumping between an investigation into a conspiracy, monologues for the other Vietnam veterans sharing their experience of that day, and the flashbacks to a bloody day of combat is sloppy. By trying to spin all three of these plates, each one ends up crashing with a dull thud. There's also a general lack of visual style to the filmmaking that further enhances how flat the viewing experience is. The ending is fairly satisfying but things drag on considerably before we finally reach it. There is even a point where Scott Huffman abruptly starts crying that doesn't fit into the final cut. It's all very middle-of-the-road when the story should have been more compelling dramatically speaking in its execution.


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