Last Man Club (2017) Review
Road-trip comedy/drama is heartwarming if a little familiar.
Last Man Club is a 2017 drama about a World War II veteran who escapes a difficult future by heading across country to find the last remaining member of his bomber crew.
War has always been an evolving beast, and while modern war is no less troubling, the one that produced the ‘greatest generation’ has long been remembered as one populated by some of history’s most honorable and courageous people. Near countless films have taken to offering stories of those who endured the worst in that fight and finding peace in the years after, trying to put their lives back together. Some have defined the entire generation.
Now comes Last Man Club, an earnest independent film that is certainly well-intentioned and is highly-respectful of the men in uniform it follows, even if it’s a little clumsy in the storytelling. It tells of an elderly man named ‘Eagle’ (James MacKrell), a former WWII pilot and captain of a B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ called The Dutchess. He is living with his son’s family but learns that he is being sent a nursing home. After getting a letter from Pete Williams (Barry Corbin), an airman he flew with in the war now suffering depression, strapped to bed in a home, he secretly runs away and heads out to find the last of his crew and rescue Pete. Along the way, he ends up partnered with a young attractive woman named Romy (Kate French), a girl with her own set of issues who helps him avoid the cops as they head across country on a wild adventure.
Written and directed by Bo Brinkman and based on his 2002 short film of the same name, Last Man Club is hard not to like, or at least its ambition, a film that is a family-friendly version of the old-men-reliving-the-past genre and while it has plenty of flaws is nonetheless almost painfully charming. A simple premise, which amounts to an old-school road trip, offers loads of opportunities for breezy conflicts and while some of the context is heavy, such as gun-play and some major felony crimes, the film never takes it seriously, playing it all as light as a feather, making it clear this is intended for younger audiences.
That’s confirmed in the relationship between Eagle and his young grandson Taylor (Blaze Tucker), who have formed a special bond, one that comes full circle by the film’s end. And there’s also the connection Eagle has with Romy, a twenty-something who learns that there are decent men in the world, even though their relationship is never more than compadres in their escapades. She’s a tough cookie herself, and while her subplot feels a little too violent and dark for the overall tone of the film, French nevertheless makes Romy a compelling and delightful character. In fact, the whole cast does good work, with Corbin especially effective. Look for cameos by Jake Busey and Michael Madsen as well.
Last Man Club is not aiming for reality, even if it strives for authenticity. The gang happen upon a slew of WWII-era-related things along the way, including a working B-17 bomber, which you can be sure gets some fly time in a moment that ditches credibility right out the bomb bay doors yet is equally fun for the sheer fantasy of it all. And that’s the take-away perhaps, to just let go and enjoy the ride, and while the main story most assuredly deserves a better film, if you’re looking for a safe, family experience this won’t let you down.
Last Man Club (2017) Review
Movie description: Last Man Club is a 2017 drama about World War II veteran who escapes a difficult future by heading across country to find the last remaining member of his bomber crew.
Director(s): Bo Brinkman
Actor(s): James MacKrell, Kate French, William Morgan Sheppard
Genre: Drama, Comedy