Last Orders (2001)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Road Movie, Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 15, 2002 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Though the journey undertaken in Last Orders by major British actors in their late middle age is worth the ride, you might at various points wonder -- as, indeed, some of the characters do onscreen -- if all the stops along the way are strictly necessary. The day-long quest by the recently departed Jack's buddies and son to fulfill his final request is more drawn out than it needs to be, and the jolting back-and-forth flashbacks to previous decades means it takes a while for the viewer to get wrapped up in the story. The chief satisfaction lies in watching the performances of, and interaction between, several superb screen veterans. Michael Caine, as Jack, actually has the least chance to shine, since his character is only seen in flashback; the reliably gregarious Bob Hoskins, the gentler Tom Courtenay, and the blustery David Hemmings (in one of his last roles) really carry the show, particularly in their thorny exchanges on the nearly interminable car ride down to the ocean to scatter Jack's ashes. It's a wordy and, at times, labored affair, but the film does manage to glean some insights into universal questions faced by everyone as they approach old age: the importance of friendship, the laments over missed opportunities, the strength and frailty of familial bonds, the pain of exposing long-hidden secrets, and the rough humor used to mask fears of mortality. Helen Mirren's moving performance as Jack's widow is instrumental in making this something more than a highbrow buddy picture.