The Last Full Measure (2019 film)
|The Last Full Measure|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Todd Robinson|
|Written by||Todd Robinson|
|Music by||Philip Klein|
|Distributed by||Roadside Attractions|
|Box office||$3.4 million|
The Last Full Measure is a 2019 American war drama film written and directed by Todd Robinson. The story follows the efforts of Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman and many veterans to see the Medal of Honor awarded to William H. Pitsenbarger, a United States Air Force Pararescueman who flew in helicopter rescue missions during the Vietnam War to aid downed soldiers and pilots. The film stars Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irvine, and Peter Fonda. It marked the final film appearance for Fonda before his death in August 2019 and was the final on-screen film appearance of Plummer before his death in February 2021.
Production began in the United States in March 2017, and the film premiered in October 2019 in Westhampton Beach, New York. It was released in the United States by Roadside Attractions on January 24, 2020, and grossed $3 million against a $20 million budget. The film's title is taken from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, where Lincoln honored the fallen, saying that they "gave the last full measure of devotion."
The true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman (also known as a PJ) who personally saved over sixty men. During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, Pits (as he was called) willingly chose to leave the relative safety of his rescue helicopter to aid people on the ground when he saw how bad the situation below was. When others in his team declined to go, he put himself at risk to do more to help his fellow Americans. After saving many already, he was ordered to take the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of soldiers of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Thirty-two years later, Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan), on a career fast-track, is reluctantly tasked with investigating a Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend and partner on the mission (William Hurt) and his parents (Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd). Huffman seeks out the testimony of Army veterans who witnessed or were saved by Pitsenbarger's extraordinary valor, including Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda) and Mott (Ed Harris) and Pitsenbarger's parents. Many of them carry their own demons from their experiences and trauma of that day and the war in Vietnam. 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.
Throughout the film in multiple flashback scenes, the Vietcong ambush of Army soldiers as they fight and die in the Vietnam jungle is shown in graphic realism. The attack is known as Operation Abilene. Young soldiers play Tulley (Ethan Russell), Takoda (Ser'Darius Blain), Burr (James Jagger), Mott (Zach Roerig), Kepper (Cody Walker), Holt (Richard Cawthorne), and Pitsenbarger as they fight. One sees the heroic service of airman Pitsenbarger as he drops into the firefight from a helicopter and goes to work as a medic. He waves off the helicopter, picks up a gun and starts to fight with his comrades. Saving many, he dies a hero. The film also details the PTSD effect on each of the now old surviving veterans of the Vietnam War.
When a Senate effort on the floor of Congress fails, Huffman goes public with the story and ultimately a Medal of Honor is awarded to Pitsenbarger. At the awards ceremony Mott delivers Pitsenbarger's last letter to the woman he loved. The airman's cancer ridden father and mother are in attendance as their son's duty, courage and sacrifice is recounted. The Air Force Secretary presents the Medal of Honor to the parents and then recognizes all in attendance. The epilogue points out that of the millions of veterans that have served their country, only 3,489 Medals of Honor have been awarded.
- Sebastian Stan as Scott Huffman (loosely inspired by William Parker “Parker” Hayes Jr.)
- Christopher Plummer as Frank Pitsenbarger
- William Hurt as Tom Tulley
- Ethan Russell as Young Tom Tulley
- Ed Harris as Ray Mott
- Zach Roerig as Young Ray Mott
- Samuel L. Jackson as Billy Takoda
- Ser'Darius Blain as Young Billy Takoda
- Jeremy Irvine as William H. Pitsenbarger
- Peter Fonda as Jimmy Burr
- James Jagger as Young Jimmy Burr
- LisaGay Hamilton as Celia O'Neal
- Michael Imperioli as Jay Ford
- Diane Ladd as Alice Pitsenbarger
- Amy Madigan as Donna Burr
- Linus Roache as F. Whitten Peters
- Alison Sudol as Tara Huffman
- Bradley Whitford as Carlton Stanton
- John Savage as Kepper
- Cody Walker as Young Kepper
- Dale Dye as Holt
- Richard Cawthorne as Young Holt
- Julian Adams as Lt. John Quaid
- Robert Pine as Meredith Huffman
- Jordan Preston Carter as Jeremy
- Asher Miles Fallica as Luke Huffman
- Travis Aaron Wade as Lt. Tom Allison
It took nearly 20 years to make the movie. Todd Robinson first learned about the William H. Pitsenbarger story while doing research for another movie in 1999. The story intrigued Robinson for several reasons, including Pitsenbarger's award of the Air Force Cross rather than the Medal of Honor. Robinson and Executive Producer Sidney Sherman pitched the film idea to more than 50 production companies but none of them were interested in making the movie. Robinson decided to write the script without funding or a studio commitment.
After finishing the script Robinson and Sherman continued to search for a studio. New Line Cinema won the deal in 2007, but not long after, New Line was sold to Warner Bros. and the project was canceled. Robinson and Sherman were again without a backer. Over the course of the next decade, they lined up funding and kicked off production in 2017.
It was announced in May 2016 that Scott Eastwood and Ed Harris had been cast in the film, with Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman in negotiations. By March 2017, Eastwood was no longer involved, and the film added Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Bradley Whitford, Michael Imperioli, Linus Roache, John Savage and Diane Ladd to its cast. Filming was set to begin between Atlanta and Costa Rica later that month. Grant Gustin and LisaGay Hamilton were cast as production commenced, with Amy Madigan and Peter Fonda joining in April. The film was dedicated in memory of Peter Fonda.
In August 2017, filming concluded in Atlanta and would move to Thailand, with Jeremy Irvine (replacing Gustin in his role), Ethan Russell, Ser'Darius Blain, Cody Walker, Julian Adams, Tommy Hatto and Zach Roerig cast in the film.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Last Full Measure holds an approval rating of 60% based on 63 critics, with an average rating of 6.21/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "The Last Full Measure struggles to capture the incidents that inspired it, but ultimately prevails thanks to strong performances in service of a remarkable true story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
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- Walsh, Katie (January 23, 2020). "Sebastian Stan and all-star cast elevate the heroism of 'The Last Full Measure'". LA Times. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
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- Busch, Anita (April 4, 2017). "Amy Madigan & Peter Fonda Join Cast Of 'The Last Full Measure'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
- Alexander, Bryan (January 23, 2020). "Peter Fonda's final role in 'The Last Full Measure' brought icon to tears". USA Today. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
- "Jeremy Irvine among new cast on 'The Last Full Measure'". Screen Daily. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
- N'Duka, Amanda (August 1, 2017). "Jeremy Irvine, 'Vampire Diaries' Actor Zach Roerig & More Set For 'The Last Full Measure'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
- "Jeremy Irvine, Tommy Hatto & Zach Roerig" – via Instagram.
- Parrish, Kate. "Song for an Unsung Hero". Sewanee: The University of the South. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
- Tartaglione, Nancy (September 6, 2018). "Roadside Attractions Takes 'The Last Full Measure' Starring Sebastian Stan – Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
- "The Last Full Measure". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Prange, Stephanie (March 3, 2020). "Drama 'The Last Full Measure' Due on Digital April 7, Disc April 21 From Lionsgate". Media Play News. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
- "The Last Fill Measure (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
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