The Last Full Measure Review – Strong Emotional Performances, A True Story of Valor

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The Last Full Measure, from Roadside Attractions, presents the story of William H. Pitsenbarger, a USAF Pararescue medic who died saving men he never knew, and they never forgot, in one of the bloodiest battles of Vietnam.

Written and directed by Todd Robinson, The Last Full Measure stars Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Fonda, LisaGay Hamilton, Jeremy Irvine, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, Linus Roche, John Savage, Alison Sudol, and Bradley Whitford.


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The film begins in the jungles of South East Asia, as the audience is introduced to a time and a season that is as foreign to them as the years have passed leaving scars in the minds of those who served and sorrow in the hearts of those who lost.

From the war which we see slowly building into an ambush, we move to a traffic jam on Constitution, as Scott Huffman, played by Sebastian Stan, is stuck in a massive back up with his pregnant wife Tara Huffman, played by Alison Sudol.

With a full day of appointments and the news the Secretary of Defense has resigned the career-oriented staffer, with the blessings of his wife, skips the sonogram and heads to the subway to keep the wheels of government forever moving along.

On this day, in addition to the chaos of change, the fast track staff has an appointment with a petitioner for a Congressional Medal of Honor upgrade. As bureaucracy being what it is, the likelihood of the request even being considered is more than a long shot, it is next to impossible. After shaking his hand and placating him and sending him on his way.

Tulley, played by William Hurt, the best friend of mission partner of William Pitsenbarger, who watched from the helicopter the young USAF medic triage, treat, rescue and refuse the call to leave the heat of the battle and retreat to the safety of the chopper, happened to see the halls of the Pentagon F. Whitten Peters, Secretary of the Air Force, played by Linus Roche.


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Approaching the Secretary, Tulley provides his rank, company and explains his reason for today’s visit is to finish the fight, for the honor of his friend and see this battle through to its end. After explaining the extraordinary valor and bravery, the Secretary decided this was something that needed to be investigated.

Soon Tulley is sitting in front of Scott Huffman, our young Pentagon fast track staffer, who is now tasked with investigating the possibility of upgrading William Pitsenbarger’s Purple Heart to The Congressional Medal of Honor which takes him on an extraordinary journey into the lives of the men rescued, the parents, played by Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd, who lost a son, and the bloody Battle of Abilene.

This is where we meet the men Pitsenbarger saved on that vicious and violent day: Takoda, played by Samuel L. Jackson; Burr, played by the late Peter Fonda; Mott, played by Ed Harris; and Kepper, played by John Savage.

But as Huffman learns more about Pitsenbarger’s courageous acts, he uncovers a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal, prompting him to put his own career on the line to seek justice for the fallen airman.

The Last Full Measure is a very good film. It is one of those films that deserves widespread recognition and a box office response as the story of this one man, who for no reason except duty, stayed and fought in what history records as one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.


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Without launching into a critique of how history is lost on this generation, The Last Full Measure doesn’t water down the war, and the PTSD that follows the men, who left the battle decades earlier and relive it every night.

The ensemble cast, which brings some of Hollywood’s most respected and seasoned talent to the screen, presents the true story with substance and an authenticity of emotion. There were real moments, real emotion, without holding back, allowing the human reactions to follow. They were all impressive.

Other than Peter Fonda, who recently passed away, to single one or the other out would be a disservice to the gifted cast and their recreation of the characters.


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The Last Full Measure tells a story, which could have died if it weren’t for the dedication, loyalty and commanderie of a group of military brothers, who survived the worst day of their lives to fight on to honor their fallen hero.

The Last Full Measure opens January 24, 2020. See it.

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