The Last Castle

October 19th, 2001


The Last Castle

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Still of Robert Redford, Paul Calderon and Mark Ruffalo in The Last CastleStill of James Gandolfini in The Last CastleThe Last CastleStill of James Gandolfini in The Last CastleThe Last CastleStill of Delroy Lindo in The Last Castle

A Court Martialed general rallies together 1200 inmates to rise against the system that put him away.

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 6.6/10 (29,015 voted)

Critic's Score: 43/100

Director: Rod Lurie

Stars: Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo

When three star General Irwin is transferred to a maximum security military prison, its warden, Colonel Winter, can't hide his admiration towards the highly decorated and experienced soldier. Irwin has been stripped of his rank for disobedience in a mission, but not of fame. Colonel Winter, who runs the prison with an iron fist, deeply admires the General, but works with completely different methods in order to keep up discipline. After a short while, Irwin can feel Winter's unjust treatment of the inmates. He decides to teach Winter a lesson by taking over command of the facility and thus depriving him of his smug attitude. When Winter decides to participate in what he still thinks of as a game, it may already be too late to win.

Writers: David Scarpa, David Scarpa

Robert Redford - Lt. Gen. Eugene Irwin
James Gandolfini - Col. Winter
Mark Ruffalo - Yates
Steve Burton - Capt. Peretz
Delroy Lindo - Gen. Wheeler
Paul Calderon - Dellwo
Sam Ball - Duffy (as Samuel Ball)
Jeremy Childs - Cutbush
Clifton Collins Jr. - Cpl. Ramon Aguilar
George W. Scott - Thumper
Brian Goodman - Beaupre
Michael Irby - Enriquez
Frank Military - Doc Lee Bernard
Maurice Bullard - Sgt. McLaren
Nick Kokich - Pvt. Niebolt

Taglines: A castle can only have one king


Official Website: DreamWorks |

Release Date: 19 October 2001

Filming Locations: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $7,088,213 (USA) (21 October 2001) (2262 Screens)

Gross: $18,208,078 (USA) (16 December 2001)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In the opening minutes of the movie, Colonel Winters (James Gandolfini) remarks "My God, they should be naming a base after him!", referring to the arriving prisoner General Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford). Actually, the US Army already has a Fort Irwin, located in the Mojave Desert in California, although it is named for Major General George LeRoy Irwin.

Revealing mistakes: When the Colonel is looking out his window to see a helicopter fly by, the American Flag is not moving, even though there is a helicopter flying right next to it.

[first lines]
Irwin: Take a look at a castle. Any castle. Now break down the key elements that make it a castle. They haven't changed in a thousand years. 1: Location. A site on high ground that commands the territory as far as the eye can see. 2: Protection. Big walls, walls strong enough to withstand a frontal attack...

User Review

The Farcical Castle

Rating: 3/10

The Last Castle was a good movie - until it got pillow-fartingly ridiculous.

A military prison. Warden: Tony Soprano. (Anyone who writes to me, explaining the distinction between an actor's character name and his real name will get a reply explaining the distinction between hebetude and tongue-in-cheek.) New inmate: profusely-decorated 3-star general Robert Redford. Theme: Battle-theorist (Tony, battle memorabilia collector) versus battle veteran (Redford, whose field credits include the Gulf and other inane political coups). Premise: Inmate Redford takes a dislike to the way Warden Tony disses his marine and army peeps behind bars, so launches a prison revolt, inmates rallying behind him due to his iron-fisted reputation and rakish good looks.

Let the farce begin.

Requisite character stereotypes abound: Aguilar, the dim bulb; Yates, the amoral prison bookie; the fallen-from-grace doctor, the big black guy, the big white guy, the big guy of uncertain ethnic descent and the token Latino guy. Redford coaxes The Patriot from this ragtag band of uncertain heroes, twisting Tony's panties into cat's cradles in the process.

For we who came to see Tony Soprano bust a move other than his renowned Gansta Rap, we were not prepared for the impotent swab his warden character turned out to be - even as a 'character actor playing against type', Tony was reined in by director Joe Lurie to such an extent that even when the situation warranted explosive retaliation during the siege, Tony simply sulked around his crumbling office in a prissy rage.

Saluting is not allowed amongst prisoners in a military prison - something to do with loss of rank and lack of hairspray. Redford's clichéd one-liners evokes inmate-saluting soon enough, causing big trouble in Little Italy. Which leads to Redford's punishment: to bare his virile, octogenarian man-torso (we're talking' carpet-chest that makes Paul Stanley's look like a bowling green) and to move a pile of rocks from here to there. With his blond ambition and undeniable desirability to prison men of all persuasions, Redford turns this punishment into yet another spectacle with which to win over the hearts of his fellow crims.

All the philosophy, chess-playing and tough love comes from the convicted criminal in this film - Redford - so the viewer is cajoled into rooting for the WRONG side. The attempts at tear-jerking and patriotism and brotherhood are completely misplaced by the fact that this bake sale is held - in a JAIL. And the good guys.are the bad guys. When was the last time you supported a prison revolt, replete with murder and destruction of taxpayer property, cheering on the cons in their noble cause to usurp authority?

Redford uses Tony's own armaments against him; the water-cannon, the trebuchet (the wha-?). This last weapon turned up out of nowhere, like Monty Python's Trojan Rabbit, when the plot had degenerated to guys running around and burning things, and the director thought no one would notice the appearance of a construct that literally cannot be hidden anywhere on prison grounds. (The Great Escape this ain't.) Checkmate is to capture the warden's American flag and fly it upside down, which denotes a distress signal, a concept which they make abundantly clear through the dialog of about twenty people. Okay - I heard you the SEVENTH time - so if the American flag winds up flying upside down, nobody's a terrorist or anti-American - sheesh!

To cap this farce with the seal of disbelief, these guys don't even want to escape - they just want another warden. I got news for you, guys: the warden may change, but the JOB-DESCRIPTION remains the same, i.e. it's his DUTY to retain your low self-esteem, disorientation and to KEEP YOU IN JAIL. Changing the management amounts to nothing more than amending the names on the doors and letterheads. Of all people, you military perps should understand that in contravening The System's laws, you yourselves have empowered The System to isolate you from it.

A prison is NOT a democracy - at least, not the last time I was in one. Since when do we grant prisoners the expertise to diagnose anti-social behavior in a warden? Or the inalienable right to OVERTHROW the prison if they "don't like the conditions"? Yeh, jail sucks - it's meant to!

In the final scene, Redford flashbacks to his Sundance Kid days, as an army trains their rifles on him in the rec yard, waiting for the word from Don Soprano to bake his ziti. Redford carries the folded flag stolen from Tony's office, and word on the street was that he was gonna raise that puppy upside down, thereby broadcasting Tony's incompetence to the Five Families. So Tony must stop him at all costs; he faces Redford, staunchly: 'Give me back my flag!'

Redford: 'It's not 'your' flag.' Ouch! - now that was so patriotic, it made my thighs supple. Sundance strides to the flagpole and resolutely starts raising the flag, as Tony is screaming at his men to shoot him down - but of course, each rifleman's dreams were now rife with frolicking in that snowy-white chest-jungle with the blue-eyed avenger-general who defied a mob boss. They lower their weapons - and it is up to The Jersey Godfather to whack Boy Redford. Of course, he is arrested immediately by his lieutenant; something to do with The Law - The Law which they suddenly want to adhere to, after not giving it a moment's thought during the last hour's siege.

Camera pans up the flagpole and - the flag is flying, proud and true - RIGHT SIDE UP. And the convicts salute it. And the guards salute it. And the music swells, as Redford dies with a smile, flag fluttering in battle-smoke breeze, cheese glutting all Exit doors.

Probably the best advice one could offer to someone contemplating viewing this movie - Fuggedaboudit!

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