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
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.
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