By Marc S. Sanders

Robert Redford, James Gandolfini and Mark Ruffalo go to sleep in The Last Castle, a prison movie of no consequence directed by Rob Lurie.

They go to sleep. So naturally, I go to sleep.

Redford plays Three Star General Eugene Irwin (a real tough guy name!) sentenced to a military prison. It’s where we have to accept that Gandolfini as a “ruthless” Colonel Winter controls his inmates with an iron fist. (Iron? Aluminum Reynolds Wrap is more like it.). That’s what the Netflix or TV guide description might tell you.

Watch the film however, and you’ll nary see anything terribly harsh from Gandolfini, much less will you see anything triumphant from a run of the mill Redford. Exactly what is the problem these two guys have that motivate the General into a forever-to-get-there uprising against the prison? These guys never appear to be enduring much of a harsh reality.

Amid the concrete walls, basketball is played with glee, rocks are carried to and fro and bets for cigarette winnings are proffered. I don’t get it. What’s wrong with this, and why is Gandolfini regarded as such a dick about it? This Colonel Winter is no Tony Soprano. That’s for sure.

I think it’s in Redford’s contract that dirt must never grace his boyhood good looks and his neat blond hair style remain preserved even when he’s running through 7 foot flames to rescue Ruffalo from a downed helicopter. (Psst, that’s the most exciting—that’s the only exciting—part of the film.)

The Last Castle is not a good movie.

As the allegorical chess play between the opposing leaders carries forth, much flexibility is offered to both sides to plan accordingly for the final battle. This is too neat and too pretty for a prison mutiny uprising. It’s real convenient that there are only rubber bullets in the guards’ rifles. That way it’s safe for everyone to play in the sandbox a little longer past curfew.

Don’t believe me about all this? Then answer me this question:

Where in the hell did Redford’s band of prisoners find the time, resources and covert opportunity to construct a building tall SLING SHOT STRAIGHT OUTTA BRAVEHEART OR LORD OF THE RINGS to chuck boulders with? I mean how the hell would you even hide such a thing when you are locked in a prison? It ain’t under the mattress. That’s for sure.

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