The latest film from director Richard Linklater (who also cowrote the screenplay) is a meditation on friendship, loss, and patriotism. It is a very loose sequel of sorts to "The Last Detail" with both films taken from their respective source novels by Darryl Ponicsan.
The film stars Steve Carell as Larry "Doc" Shepard, a Vietnam Vet who is on his way to recover the body of his son who was killed in Iraq. He enlists the aid of his old Marine buddies, Sal, played by Bryan Cranston and Mueller, played by Laurence Fishburne. While they haven't seen each other in years, the three quickly reunite and Sal and Mueller agree to accompany Doc to help bury his son.
This is a heavy drama but the character of Sal acts as the comic relief and Mr. Cranston is just terrific as the foul mouthed, unfiltered Vet who refuses to back down from anything. Mr. Carrell plays against type and is stoic in his grief and pain throughout the film. And of course, Mr. Fishburne is a towering presence as the now, man of God who holds the trio together on their unlikely road trip.
Mr. Linklater's script does starts to grow weary as repetition creeps in. It could have benefitted from tighter editing but the final act is so beautifully conceived and executed, any excess baggage is forgiven. This is truly a power trio of actors in a thought provoking, heartbreaking story, filled with sadness and unexpected humor.