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LAST RESORT: Hollywood Blows It

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ABC’s new series Last Resort is promoted as a high-drama military series, coming from Shawn Ryan, executive producer of The Shield and The Unit. However, after watching the pilot, it seems as if those who made it took the worst aspects of Seven Days in May, Crimson Tide, and Platoon, and mixed them all together – creating a film that fits just about every stereotype of the military that so-called progressives have put forth.

Set during a significant political crisis in the United States (the president is facing impeachment and at least four flag officers have resigned in protest of his policies), the crew of the fictional USS Colorado has just carried out the extraction of some Navy SEALs from a mission off the coast of Pakistan. The captain, played by the talented Andre Braugher, best known for starring in Homicide: Life on the Street and Men of a Certain Age, finds that the SEALs are tight-lipped about their mission.

After the receipt of an order to launch four of the submarine’s Trident missiles via a backup channel, the crew discovers that things do not add up. When they hesitate to launch, they are targeted by other American forces. As a result, they seize an island that held a NATO listening post. At that point, the crew is forced to launch a Trident that detonates off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States in order to secure a 200-mile “no-man’s land” around the island.

The pilot is rife with inaccuracies. In one glaring example early on, the captain and XO of the Colorado share a drink of liquor served from a flask in the captain’s cabin – an outright violation of naval regulations. Similarly, while the sailors are portrayed as trying to do the right thing, the initial impression is that there is no way that in real life, they would have even passed the screenings necessary to enter the Personnel Reliability Program, and thus serve on a ballistic missile submarine. While the needs of telling a story may require dramatic license, Last Resort’s story just pushes it to the point of creating a soap opera.

The storytellers admitted (most notably in a panel discussion covered by TV.com this past July) that they did not seek resources from the DOD on this project – and it shows in the series’ detachment from plausibility. The implausibility of the characters actually serving on a ballistic missile submarine is exceeded only by the outlandish plot, where USS Colorado was attacked to somehow not only provide justification for a nuclear strike on Pakistan, but the foggy backstory about what seems to be a power-grab in the United States. Even the aftermath of the climactic standoff just seems unrealistic.

Series co-creator Carl Gajdusek claims, “We're very kind and caring in our portrayal of naval officers and seamen.” He and Shawn Ryan may have made the effort to do so, but they created caricatures, and their outlandish scenario detracts from the production values, particularly the special effects, and they fall short of their goal.

Good special effects cannot counteract what can only be described as the Hollywood Left’s idea of a military series. If you want a good military story, get Act of Valor on DVD, or see if you can find TV series like JAG or watch the new season of NCIS. Because Last Resort ought not to even be a last resort for anyone who is looking for a good portrayal of the military.

Article by Harold Hutchison