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The Netflix Files: Last Ounce of Bulls@%t

We've got a baaaaaaaad one tonight, folks. Really bad.

To begin: I've heard of Last Ounce of Courage, namely through Rotten Tomatoes. You see, one of my secrets of writing reviews comes from going on the website and reading review after review from other movie critics, sometimes to get a feel for what the movie is about beforehand, most times afterward to pick up on bits and pieces from the film that I may have overlooked or not payed that much attention to on an initial viewing. It's very rare that I read reviews that essentially come to the same conclusion that I did when I watched this movie on You Tube (Technically, this movie wasn't on Netflix's instant streaming program, but I'm putting it on here as a second installment, at any rate.):

This movie was a piece of shit!

Words really can't describe the hell I put myself through and this review will be a bit different because I'll be bringing in politics in this, which I felt I've stayed clear away from, for the most part, with most of my reviews, but in this case, it's apart of the film, and it's a big factor into why this movie became almost unwatchable, so I'd feel remiss if I didn't include it into this review.

From a film perspective: this movie is just a chore to sit through. Vietnam vet Bob Revere (subtle last name there, filmmakers) is still grieving over the loss of his son, who's shipped out to fight in a war in the Middle East (Iraq)  and died in combat. Fourteen years have passed, and the soldier within him has awakened with his widowed daughter-in-law Kari, and her son, Christian (again, subtle choice there in naming the kid) returning to the small town, only to find that the local cross has been taken down, the Bible is outlawed at a public school, and Christmas paraphernalia is now considered a violation between church and state. Bob decides it's time to fight again, by bringing back Christmas to his town, a town of which he is Mayor of.. When a ACLU-type lawyer catches wind of what he's doing,a fight between Bob and the evil civil liberties group ensues over whether or not their town can celebrate Christmas and practice worship their God and their values.

Look at meee, look at meee: i'm a patriotic American!
I'm not even kidding: That's the movie, in a nutshell, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The script is bland, reading like should have been fitted for a TV movie rather than a film. The idea of a veteran coming face to face with his demons is an idea lifted from the Clint Eastwood-directed Gran Torino; the subplot of the school kids attempting to the story of the Birth of Christ is like watching a half-assed live-action version of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the family drama subplot about an estranged family member is barely utilized in the plot and gets resolved at the end without the director or the screenwriter taking the time to establish what the conflict was about in the first place. The acting and dialogue are abysmal, with Marshall Teague as Bob, Hunter Gomez as Christian, Jennifer O'Neal as Bob's wife, and Fred Willaimson as Warren Hammershmidt speaking lines that come off as extremely calculated and forced to the point where they might as well shove their message down our throats. Even the music to the film is hammy and feels calculated and forced, just in case we need to be reminded that this is either an emotional scene, or a moment where we're supposed to feel inspired and proud. On every level - writing, direction, acting, score, production value and editing - this film reeks of a job done by amateurs. This was a political/religious rant all the way through, masquerading as a drama, with the story being the excuse to preach to the converted, which is the film's biggest flaw.

Last Ounce of Courage, directed by Kevin McAfee and Darrel Campbell, wasn't interested in telling a story. It was reinforcing an ideology that the forces on the other side (liberals) are out to take away their God-given rights to freely worship and crucify Christians in small towns everywhere. The film presented it's protagonist, Bob Revere and the town in when he is mayor of, as the last stand in the fight to have the Cross, the Ten Commandments or the nativity story plastered in the public square. William Hammerschmidt, the film's antagonist, is portrayed as the sinister civil liberties lawyer who is trying to squash the rebellion from spreading out. Did I forget to mention that the antagonist is an African-American sent from D.C.? You know, that place where the federal government is trying to interfere with our rights?! Have you gotten it yet?? 

Non-Freedom loving Americans need not apply!
They also portray the group he works for as engaging in anti-American activities (I'm not kidding; that was a line of dialogue.) and being anti-religion, or in this case, anti Christian, which, to the filmmakers, is basically the same thing. How do I know this? Because the bloody picture keeps referencing how their religion is the one that keeps getting silenced and persecuted by secular forces! Bob makes some shoe-in references for other faiths to enjoy placing their religious symbols alongside the Nativity ornaments, but this is never seen in the movie, and that's the only time another religious practice is mentioned. Also, the notion that the ACLU (let's not beat around the bush, that's who the filmmakers were taking a swipe at) is out to silence Christians, is absolute nonsense. That organization has time after time after time come to the defense of their rights as Americans, to freely practice their religious beliefs, but let's not let that inconvenient truth get in the way of slandering an organization that takes defending the Establishment and Free-Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment seriously!

What's even more disingenuous about this Christian propaganda picture is the climactic scene where after Bob and his grandson climb the roof of a building and restore the Cross to it's rightful place, he gives a "stirring " speech about how the townsfolk need to stop being silent and start taking the fight to the "enemy" and reclaim their stolen "freedoms." The last time I checked, Bob was still able to freely worship and practice his religious beliefs at home or in a place of worship, without being discriminated against, and even Chris can read and quote Bible scripture outside the classroom if he so chose. Hell, he could read said scripture right from his smartphone if he wanted to, making the controversy of having a Bible on school grounds redundant! More importantly, the film already paints this broad brush stroke on who the "enemy" is: basically the liberal menace who believe in the Separation of Church and State, and everyone else who doesn't share their viewpoints. The "good guys" are people like Bob and his family, who are making a stand for the traditions and values that have made this nation of ours great. I wonder if that means bullying others to gets their religious paraphernalia back in the public square, cutting off ties when a son or daughter doesn't share the same beliefs and values that their parents do (Again, i'm not making this up; that was a plot point mentioned in the film) and trespassing on public property to put the Cross back up. And this guy is supposed to be our protagonist.

For a movie that's supposed to be about "family, faith and freedom," Last Ounce of Courage trips over its ideals often and almost always without a sense of irony. We can scratch off  "family" because Bob and his wife didn't make any attempt to welcome their daughter back with open arms or even try to bridge together what similarities they shared, and it's not like they even give time for this subplot to develop: she sees the error of her ways and tearfully reunites with her estranged family at the end! The "faith" portion is just daddy Revere jaded and pissed that he can't display decorations in public (even thought he's well-within his rights to display such items on his own property) and display his love for Jesus out in public. If your faith is really that damaged that you can't go to Church and practice your beliefs, or display the Nativity scene out on your front porch, then maybe your faith isn't as strong as you believe it is. Lastly, the "freedom" part - from the shots of Bob riding his chopper motorcycle with a big American flag sticking out on the back end, to referencing the damn word every 2 minutes, the word itself is only given lip-service. If  Revere really cared so much about "freedom", he would have at least respected the school's decision as to why the Bible isn't allowed on school property and left the building that once had the Cross on the building Cross-less, or even respected that no everyone shares the same viewpoints and beliefs that he does and that it's all fine with him. In other words, he would have respected the viewpoints of the Founding Fathers when they wrote, "Congress shall make no law establishing religion," instead of trying to impose his beliefs, regardless of how others feel about it.

Last Ounce of Courage is about none of the aforementioned values and ideals. It's about a bitter, angry old man who gets bent over "Happy Holidays," not seeing the school play about the Birth of Christ, and wishing for a return to the good old days.  And it gleefully legitimizes that viewpoint to it's base of values voters, conservative-Christians, and Tea Party members. It's about being obnoxious, inconsiderate dicks who refuse to move on. Then again, I doubt the title Last Ounce of Obnoxiousness would be a big seller with that market.

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