Signalman First Class Billy “Badass” Buddusky (Nicholson) and Gunners mate First Class Richard “Mule” Mulhall (Young) are too take a petty criminal and helpless none entity Seaman Larry Meadows (Quaid) to the brig. He has been sent there for trying to steal a charity collection totalling a miserable $40, well trying to steal the money, as he was caught red handed. Rules are rules and the Navy has to punish the crime. So the two men are given the order and have simply to make sure he gets from where they are to where the Navy prision is in Portsmouth (Some 300 miles).
Road movies are great ways to explore things that are delicate or are little talked about in wider society. Take As Good as it gets for instance. That challenged the views of sexuality, mental health and single parenthood in intellegent ways. The last detail does the same for the Navy, Men and finality. The navy as instituion is given examination by its layers of legality and political iconsistency. The world of Navy here seems both petty and all powerful. It is also a place where some are stuck in a career that is their only route in life.
These things are all captured with a tender wit and emotional force. The journey of men is more complex and more captivating for me. Nicholson is the man that is stuck between wanting in and wanting out. He fails in both regards but learns that his life is his work. Young is the man compelled to be in his position because he is unable to achieve outside of it. Being black and older means opportunity is limited to the forces and little else. Quaid is the most interesting of this bunch however. He is from a broken home and is broken. The Navy finishing the job.
All three give brilliant performances and play off each other without showboating. Ashby directs for the performance and does so with measure and pace that works. It must have been hard to call time but he does so with enough power to make each scene count. Its a commendable film that is a study in film art.
Restoration looks great. With textures on the image and grain cleaned to shine. The TV version is a fave and works alongside my current dissertation project about censorship in television. Payne apperciation was ok but it was not the best thing on the disc. The essay by Michael Pattison is ok enough but the stand out piece is Robert C Jones….
- 4K restoration
- The Last Detail: The TV Version – world exclusive presentation of the infamous sanitised ’tv cut’ of the film
- An appreciation by filmmaker Alexander Payne (2017, tbc mins)
- Interview with Oscar-winning editor Robert C. Jones (2017, tbc mins)
- Interview with DoP Michael Chapman (tbc, 4 mins)
- Isolated score: experience Johnny Mandel’s original soundtrack music
- Theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison and archival materials
- Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies
- UK Blu-ray premiere