The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial review by Bobby Blakey
Director William Friedkin has an impressive resume before his death with films like The French Connection and The Exorcist as well as one of my personal favorites Bug among many others. His final film, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, which he also wrote adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and stage play by Herman Wouk stars Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Clarke, Jake Lacy, Monica Raymund, Lewis Pullman, Jay Duplass, Tom Riley and the late Lance Reddick. Could this court drama bring something compelling to the stand or will it be in contempt?
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial follows Commander Queeg, whose erratic behavior sparks revolt amidst a violent storm aboard the USS Caine. Now, those who challenged him face a high-stakes court-martial where the line between valor and duty blurs, and the fate of their careers and reputations hang in the balance.
I knew nothing about this heading in, but after seeing it I assumed it might have had history int he theater as it is both acted and staged as such. It throws out all the big visuals and set pieces to keep things specifically in the court room for the majority of the film. It’s a simple story with a lot of layers all laid out through the various witnesses of the case. We never see the actions that actually occurred, but theater of the mind you piece the mystery together.
To do this it has to feature some pretty strong performances and it does just that. Everyone is on point here with Keifer Sutherland stealing the show. He is the primary focus of the case despite only being in the film at the beginning and closer to the end, but his moments on the stand are outstanding. He brings a power to the role of Queeg and yet there is something else there allowing a simplistic nature and vulnerability to the strong character.
The rest of the cast are great despite being kind of one note characters. Clarke brings an interesting level of honor, loyalty and hesitation in what he is having to accomplish. His final moment in the film is powerful and fully brings things he says at the beginning of the film and some of his reactions to the case full circle.
This isn’t an exciting movie by any means, but one that is a showcase of talent bringing forth a case that its focus is on the moral and ethical decisions made on board these ships and the crew/commanding officer relationships. I hope this film finds its audience because Friedkin and this outstanding cast brought their A game for his final film.
Step into court and decide for yourself and check out The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial available now on digital and streaming on Paramount+