Instep Today

American-Pakistani filmmaker Habib Paracha returns with The Last Full Measure

By Omair Alavi
Thu, 02, 20

The film is an intense retelling of the story of a Vietnam War hero.

He came, he saw and he saved lives - that’s what William H. Pitsenbarger did in the Vietnam War, even when he wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. As a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman, he was ordered to bring back the wounded but stayed back when he saw his fellow countrymen in trouble. Did he get a Medal of Honor - USA’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration for his efforts where he took the rescue mission to the next level? Not for 32 years after the incident. Director Todd Robinson’s The Last Full Measure brings the story of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ in a brilliant way. Here are five reasons we recommend the film…

1. It has an American-Pakistani executive producer

The film has been executive produced by a dozen people and the one name that stands out in the credits is that of American-Pakistani filmmaker Habib Paracha. It’s not the first time Paracha has ventured in Hollywood. In the past, he has worked with well-known actors. The Trust featured Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood and Jerry Lewis (in his final film) in 2016; Terminal had the beautiful Margot Robbie and the brilliant Simon Pegg whereas Strive featured Danny Glover of Lethal Weapon franchise. He was in Pakistan for the premiere of The Last Full Measure and must have been satisfied, seeing people leaving cinema in a jovial mood.

2. It is based on the true story of an American hero

William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman sacrificed his life to save the lives of US soldiers after they were ambushed in a jungle. Even though he wasn’t supposed to be on the ground, he delivered medical assistance when he realized that the medic in the team was wounded. He even refused to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone and stayed behind. Why wasn’t he given a Medal of Honor for his effort is an entirely different story despite all the lives he saved in the war. The case dropped into the lap of Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) by chance nearly three decades later, and he decided to make it his mission to seek justice for the fallen airman. How he manages to do so is what The Last Full Measure captures with great depth.

3. The all-star cast

You may have seen Sebastian Stan and Samuel L. Jackson together in Marvel Cinematic Universe as Winter Soldier and Nick Fury, but here they meet in different circumstances in this film. Stan plays the man who wants justice for Pitsenbarger. Apart from Stan, other cast members include the great Christopher Plummer, Diane Ladd, William Hurt, Samuel L. Jackson, the late Peter Fonda and Ed Harris. Due to Peter Fonda’s death last year, the film was dedicated to his memory. The scenes he shared with Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris and even Sebastian Stan were executed well.

4. The Last Full Measure is relatable, universal

The film doesn’t have a villain per se but shows that bureaucracy is the same no matter where you reside. It was because of the US bureaucrats that the fallen airman was denied justice. How this film portrays it is not only relatable but also acceptable. You want the protagonist to win his own battle as well as fulfill his promise to Bill’s parents but he gets offers to back off and land a better job for the sake of his family. Sounds like something that would happen in Pakistan where hardly anything happens if you don’t know the right people in the right places.

5. The film runs high on emotions like any good war film

The secret ingredient to any successful war film is the emotions it can stir. Although much of the action takes place in flashback format in The Last Full Measure, the sequences where there is hardly any action are most effective. The film runs high on emotions and even made some of the audience clap at the end. The narrative of Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice will bring tears to your eyes. One of the interviewees (in post-credits) even chokes while describing the incidents that happened more than 50 years ago.