“Be all that you can be in the army.” Exactly what does that phrase mean? If it means following rules and obeying commands to the fullest as a proud soldier for one’s country, what happens when one doesn’t comply?
He may be court-martialed and sent to the maximum-security prison called the Castle, where the warden makes sure he knows he made a big mistake.
When General Irwin (Robert Redford) arrives at the Castle, he is a legendary three-star general. Within minutes, he is reduced to a mere prisoner, just because he followed his gut instinct instead of following orders. There he falls under the supervision of Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini)
The prisoners were once men of great courage and honor. Their lives took a wrong turn and they ended up in prison. General Irwin believes that anyone is capable of redemption and looks for the good in these men. Winter, on the other hand, feels they all had dishonored the uniform he wears so proudly and labels them as irredeemable.
Winter has the utmost respect for Irwin when he first arrives, but the respect soon turns into resentment and hostility as Irwin keeps challenging the warden’s cruel methods. Push comes to shove, and Irwin, along with the rest of the prisoners, decides to take over the castle. After all, a castle can only have one king.
This movie is less about prisoners trying to escape, or prisoners trying to take over, but more about the redemption and triumph of the human spirit. The prisoners are led to believe that they are worthless, but Irwin is able to make them realize that they are still brave and honorable men.
Directed by Rod Lurie, this is definitely a guy movie. But to my amazement, I enjoyed every minute of it. Even scenes like the one that shows a bullet going through a man’s skull in slow motion. I am not too keen on action flicks, but there was something different about this one.
Perhaps it is the sense of pride in the country that governs the movie up to the very end when an army of brave soldiers proudly salutes the flag.
The movie may be too serious. However, to lighten the mood, humor is thrown in here and there. It blends well with the scenes and flows nicely along with the rest of the movie.
The actors are all well suited for their parts. With an all-star cast including Mark Ruffalo and Steve Burton, Redford and Gandolfini are like icing on a cake.
It is a movie worth watching. Not so much for the great storyline and excellent acting, but for reassurance. With everything that has happened lately to America, this movie portrays the survival of the human spirit and conveys a sense of hope for our future.