Last Ounce of Courage Nov 30, 2012 18:00:20 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 30, 2012 18:00:20 GMT -5
Marshall R. Teague (right).
If you've seen the trailer for Last Ounce of Courage, then you know the roots and the morals of the entire picture. Some films like to persuade the audience down a different direction and have them possess a different idea of the film in their trailers. Not this one. This film blatantly comes out and tells you what it is, what it strives to be, and what lies behind its morality and its filmmakers' cores all in the trailer. It's one of the most unsubtle films I've seen in years.
Let me give you an idea of how patriotic this film is; in the one minute and fifty-one second trailer I counted fifteen shots where the American flag was clearly visible, thirteen of them in the first minute. There's also an unintentionally corny sequence of Marshall R. Teague's character riding a motorcycle, draped in leather apparel, and proudly letting the American flag flow in the wind of the air. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, but as a whole, this is another tired, worn entry in the almost hopeless genre of American cinema, and when I say "American cinema," I mean cinema that comes from this country boasting nationalism and simple, earnest, life-affirming values. See Broken Bridges and Seven Days in Utopia for schooling in the field.
We begin on an offbeat note that could've been keenly directed into passable territory with development and humanity. The first character we see is Thomas Revere, a man who has a patriotic father named Bob (Marshall R. Teague), a loving mother (Jennifer O'Neill), a young wife (Nikki Novak), and a young son on the way. He enlists in the war to fight for his country, like his father did, and writes letters and sends videos back to his wife and infant son during his deployment. Later on, in the middle of a normal day, Thomas's mom is greeted by the sight of two military men, in uniform, with an American flag and a wreath on her doorstep. Thomas's wife is now a widower with a young child. If this happened twenty minutes into the picture, and we had more development and interest in the character of Thomas, having him die would be a monumentally depressing plot-point. To have him die minutes after meeting him leaves the viewer emotionally deprived when it should leave us emotionally drained.
We move several years later, where Thomas's son Christian (whether the name is supposed to be coincidental or unintentional I can't say), played by Hunter Gomez, is a bright and curious fourteen year old boy, who is suddenly interested in all that has happened to his father, as if a fatherless kid never asked his mother just what happened to daddy. He digs through an old chest of his grandfather's to try and find more facts about him, and gets his family to watch old videos of Thomas's love letters to his mother.
Then we take the incredibly abrupt topic of how Christmas has become a greatly limited holiday in the states, what with political correctness and the recognition of other holidays around the same time. Bob, who is the mayor of the small town of Mount Columbus, is sickened at how America has neglected the fact that Christmas is a national holiday, and while it isn't celebrated by every American in the country, it should nonetheless be recognized and we should have the broad freedom to wish people a "Merry Christmas" without being scolded for arrogance.
I've noticed a barrage of online reviewers claiming those who will hate this movie are liberals and that's because they are not true Americans. I'm not so sure about that. I consider myself a hardcore Libertarian, who has an immense amount of pride and respect for the United States, possesses a large amount of individualist opinions, and shares the same views as Bob on the idea of Christmas; we live in America, and saying "Merry Christmas" on Television or in public schools shouldn't be the big deal that it is. I'm living proof you can share the same opinion as the filmmakers and not be a fan of the film.
The main reason is for the heavy-handedness of the topic at hand, and the complete bleeding heart, Christian-Conservative propaganda that becomes nauseatingly obvious and brutally contrived throughout the whole film. This is a picture that completely shortchanges character relations and depth in order to promote its ideology. It features capable acting by Marshall R. Teague and Hunter Gomez, but uninspired, wooden performances from the majority of its actor, and screenwriter that ultimately could pass for a heavily biased lecture.
There's also a needless subplot that makes two odd acts of rebellion seem like true instances of heroism. One instance is Bob hoisting a sign that reads "Jesus Saves" on the front of the veteran hall, and one reading "Merry Christmas" on the front of his house, put up by kids. The other instance is Christian's new friend (Jenna Boyd) and her gal-pals completely changing and skewing the writing of the school play about aliens to be about the nativity story and the Bible. Had this been completely left out of the film, we would've been spared several dry caricatures, and utilized the thirty minutes this subplot takes up to give us backstory on Thomas.
I suppose my main quibble with the film is that it makes an issue out of something that is so petty and foolish in real life that seeing a film pound in the morals and someone's biased ideology of the event makes it just as painful to listen to. I respect the filmmakers involved, I wouldn't object to watching other films by them, and I feel that with great material, they could all work wonders. But to make a ninety-eight minute film that does nothing more than paint an oppressive picture of an opinion held by the people involved, and utilize it as an attack for anyone on the opposite side of the coin is a colossal miscalculation in terms of a way going about an argument and in terms of filmmaking.
Starring: Marshall R. Teague, Jennifer O'Neill, Fred Williamson, Nikki Novak, Hunter Gomez, and Jenna Boyd. Directed by: Darrel Campbell and Kevin McAfee.