79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Gets better with each viewing; an overlooked classic
, January 12, 2003
This review is from: The Last Detail (DVD)
This is one of my favorites, but it's also one of the most difficult movies to describe to people. Yes, it's about two experienced guys in the Navy who are assigned to escort a young charge (whom they don't know) to Naval prison. And yes, they have some fun along the way, knowing how sad the situation really is. But there's an indescribable something about "The Last Detail" that just gets to me on a pretty deep level. First of all, it's the acting. I mean if you ever question Jack Nicholson's talent and depth as an actor, then watch this movie. I beg to argue about who on earth could have ever embodied this role this deeply. I don't think any of the other big and great actors of his time could have pulled it off this perfectly (Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, George C. Scott, Robert DeNiro). Also, Otis Young and Randy Quaid are pitch-perfect in their roles as well, though the movie clearly belongs to Nicholson. This is a GREAT PERFORMANCE!! It's the definition of one!
But in addition to the acting, the photography of the film is brilliant. It captures the times and places in a rather bleak yet very haunting way. The guys drinking beer in the parking garage in D.C. The three of them pressed into the small hotel room in D.C., along with all those empty beer bottles. Walking a quiet and snowy residential block in Camden, NJ. Walking the streets of nighttime NYC. Playing darts in a bar in NYC. Going to a late night party in an NYC apartment. Going to a Boston brothel. Trying to grill and have a picnic in the middle of a snowy park in Boston! I don't know if it's just my fascination with the time that causes me to find it so darn striking, but it just is. I find these scenes so haunting, and so REAL.
To me, those two things are what make this film so exceptional. The dialogue is also brilliant, as is the complexity of the emotions that are raised by the story. I guess it works on a lot of levels. Just don't miss it, whether you're a Nicholson fan or not. But if you are a Nicholson fan, don't miss out on what is probably his greatest performance!!
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