First lines – “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. 3: A garrison. Men who are trained and willing to kill. 4: A flag. You tell your men you are soldiers and that's your flag. You tell them nobody takes our flag. And you raise that flag so it flies high where everyone can see it. Now you've got yourself a castle. The only difference between this castle and all the rest is that they were built to keep people out. This castle is built to keep people in.”


The “castle” being spoken about in this opening quote is a castle which has been turned inside out: a prison.

The Last Castle stars Robert Redford as Lt. General Eugene Irwin, an officer beloved by his men who has been court-martialed and sent to a military prison run by Col. Winter (James Gandolfini).  Winter is a man who sees himself as a great military man despite never having seen any active duty.  While he also has an admiration for Lt. General Irwin he is appalled by the respect that the other inmates seem to have for him.  The Colonel’s goal is to break him.


The Last Castle moves smoothly through the process of understanding why Lt. General Irwin is respected by so many and just why the warden Col. Winter is so much of a problem.  This is not a film that is going to generate a lot of mystery regarding what will happen.  You know where it is going and to an extent, the path it will take getting there.  What makes it interesting is watching the interaction between Redford as a very strong willed but quiet Lt. Gen. Irwin pitted against the almost equally strong willed Col. Winter in their battle to maintain both who they are and maintain or obtain control of “the castle.”