The most impressive thing about the new film “The Last Full Measure” is the unusually large number of named actors that are in this above average war story. Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Plummer, Bradley Whitford, William Hurt, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, John Savage, Sebastian Stan and the late Peter Fonda in his last movie role. The acting is also outstanding from all of the named actors, especially William Hurt. The Last Full Measure reminds all of us that very often the worst thing about war is the psychological damage it does to so many millions of people, long after the war is over.
The subject of this war story, is mostly told through flashbacks of one of the most bloody battles of the Vietnam war – Operation Abilene. Air force medic William H. Pitsenbarger saved over 60 men during this battle and entirely because of military politics, his congressional medal of honor was taken away after he was killed during this battle. Considering the extraordinary heroism of Pitsenbarger, saving 60 lives during one of the worst battles of the Vietnam War, it is a tragedy that politics prevented him being honored for so many years. I thought it was also interesting to find out that out of the almost 3500 Congressional Medals awarded, only 18 are with the Air Force and only 3 of those were enlisted men. One of those went to Pitsenbarger.
The problem with this movie are the large amounts of time devoted to Pentagon employee Scott Huffman interviewing the many witnesses to Operation Abilene, which makes this movie unnecessarily slow in too many places and does account to the relatively low 60% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. I agree with mostly low ratings and despite the very good acting and well shot war scenes I cannot recommend this film.