The Last Rifleman: emotive Pierce Brosnan film set in Northern Ireland moves veterans to tears
Inspired by a true story, ‘The Last Rifleman’ tells the story of Artie Crawford, a Royal Ulster Rifles veteran from east Belfast who slips quietly out of his countryside care home in an effort to meet his former comrades in France on the 75th anniversary.
The film was released on Sky Cinema on Sunday and has already struck a chord with ex-military personnel – with one veterans’ campaigner lauding it as “Brosnan’s best ever film”.
Deemed too frail, with too many health conditions, to make the journey as part of a Royal British Legion delegation, Artie hatches a plan to make his own way to the reunion at all costs.
What follows is a tale of triumph over adversity, the kindness of strangers, the pain of bereavement and the importance of Remembrance.
He said: “I thought it was a very moving film. That journey that he’s determined to make – to go and meet his old mates he thinks are still about.
“For anybody who doesn’t understand what Remembrance weekend means to veterans, this film should help show them the depth of feeling – and the emotions veterans go through that weekend.”
The plot of ‘The Last Rifleman’ is loosely based on the story of Royal Navy veteran Bernard Jordan who walked out of a care home near Brighton, wearing his blazer and medals under a grey raincoat to avoid arousing suspicion, after missing out on the official trip to France in 2014.
Mr Young said: “I think Pierce Brosnan did a marvellous job in that role. He put a lot of emotion into it, and he really captured that sense of pride.”
In a Facebook post following his first viewing of the film on Sunday evening, Mr Young said: It is a very emotional film and I would recommend any veteran or their families that want to understand why we hold Remembrance weekend as sacrosanct. I would advise having a box of tissues handy. You will need them.”
Another military veteran posted his own approval, describing the film as “very moving,” and “heart-rending”.
As the film’s release has been timed to coincide with the annual Remembrance commemorations, Mr Young said it was particularly sad to see how anti-Israel protests close to the cenotaph in Whitehall were disrespecting the sacrifice of past generations.
“It shows the lack of understanding, and the depth to which they’ve sunk, in not recognising the people that afforded them the freedom to (protest).
“They have no respect for the type of quiet dignity, as depicted in the character of Archie in the film – they just don’t care.”
Another film based on the 2014 exploits of Bernard Jordan was launched in UK cinemas last month. ‘The Great Escaper’, starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson, was also critically acclaimed.
Mr Jordan’s return from Normandy made headlines around the world and he gave a number of media interviews before he died peacefully just over six months later.
“I had a good time, every minute of it. I'm pleased I did it. I'd do it again tomorrow,” he told ITV.