Review: The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial serves as the final movies for legendary director William Friedkin and seasoned character actor Lance Reddick. Both work in harmony in this lean, procedural courtroom drama. A precise sendoff for these two industry staples.
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial premiered on Showtime this week, offering viewers the opportunity to see William Friedkin’s final movie as the legendary director passed away in August of this year. Friedkin was responsible for many of the industry’s sharpest genre films, from The Exorcist to The French Connection to Sorcerer – the list goes on.
The movie also includes one of Lance Reddick’s final performances, as the actor known for his roles in The Wire and the John Wick franchise also unfortunately passed away earlier this year. As a capsule and spotlight on the careers of these two talented individuals, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial offers many reasons to check it out on Showtime.
And the film is perfectly in the vein of A Few Good Men or 12 Angry Men or any other courtroom drama because The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial commits to the bit for its entire 108 minute runtime. It’s lean and unobtrusively shot, relying entirely on its detailed story and powerhouse performances.
Outside of Lance Reddick’s role as head judge Captain Blakely, the movie stars Jason Clarke as Lieutenant Barney Greenwald, the defense attorney for a young sailor accused of mutiny against his supposed unstable commander. The young sailor is Stephen Maryk – a levelheaded Lieutenant effortlessly played by Jake Lacy.
Commander Philip Francis Queeg is the acting Captain of the U.S.S. Caine. His paranoic tendencies begin to shine through as the process unfolds. He’s played by Kiefer Sutherland, who gives his all and develops Queeg as the movie rolls along. He seems stable at first, but the details slowly unfurl and his personality begins to have layers as they question him later in the film.
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial works mostly because of its tight script, one filled with detail and intrigue. It’s written by William Friedkin as an adaptation of Herman Wouk’s original novel. Friedkin was always interested in procedure, so it feels like a perfect match and the movie builds steam from the opening seconds.
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Jason Clarke plays a character he’s all too familiar with, but he’s allowed to be the protagonist this time around instead of the advisory like in, say, Oppenheimer (which he’s also quite stellar in). There’s an understated tone to his character that works well, as if he always feels as if the case is already won. Clarke and Lacy play off each other nicely because of this, too.
Monica Raymund plays opposite Clarke as the lead prosecutor Katherine Challee. She displays a worthy screen presence, able to go toe-to-toe at any moment with any of the seasoned actors she shares the screen with. I was unfamiliar with her style and deliver prior to this (her most prominent credits being a supporting role in 2022’s Bros, and a few procedural network dramas), but I imagine we’ll be seeing more from her in the future after a performance as powerful and relentless as this.
And there’s an exciting supporting performance by Lewis Pullman, who’s character becomes key as an important witness to the events on the U.S.S. Caine. Many will recognize Pullman as the quirky Bob character from Top Gun: Maverick, but he proves to be much more as a screen presence in this. I’m excited to see him develop as he’s in more movies because there’s certainly a charismatic quality to him here.
I was a big fan of this one. Friedkin’s direction may feel light and direct, but it perfectly pairs with an engaging script and a set of unique and diverse performers. Sutherland gets a few emphatic scenes towards the end, and Clarke serves as the noteworthy moral compass. A remarkably effective final outing for William Friedkin and Lance Reddick.
Watch The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial on Paramount+ with Showtime
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Film Cast and Credits
Kiefer Sutherland as Philip Francis Queeg
Jason Clarke as Barney Greenwald
Jake Lacy as Stephen Maryk
Monica Raymund as Katherine Challee
Lance Reddick as Captain Blakely
Lewis Pullman as Lt. Keefer
Tom Riley as Willis Keith
Jay Duplass as Allen Bird
Director: William Friedkin
Cinematography: Michael Grady
Editor: Darrin Navarro
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial movie on Letterboxd
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial movie on IMDb