Brosnan in 'The Last Rifleman'

The True Story Behind ‘The Last Rifleman’ Starring Pierce Brosnan

The Last Rifleman follows World War II Veteran Artie Crawford who, on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, decides to abandon his care home and embark on a journey to France to pay his respects. 

The trailer features an aged-up Pierce Brosnan with thick gray eyebrows, soft white hair that’s bushy on the sides and receding in the front, and wrinkles indicative of a life filled with emotional highs and lows. With a couple of sunspots and a determined expression, Brosnan becomes the elderly former soldier. When the woman overseeing little getaways turns him down — putting his health before his ambitions — he hides in an express van to sneak out of captivity, jumps on a train, and begins the adventure of a lifetime. 

With a cane in one hand and an expired passport in the other, this determined 92-year-old man has got to figure out a way to accomplish his mission and get to Normandy. While some surrounding him have their doubts, others are watching in awe from their TV screens, as his story quickly takes his local community (and beyond) by storm. 

From Director Terry Loane (In the Land of Saints and Sinners, The Woman in White, Mickybo and Me) and writer Kevin Fitzpatrick (Evil Lives Here, The Last Letter), the film also stars John Amos, Clémence Poésy, Claire Rafferty, and Desmond Eastwood. Brosnan will also play a younger version of the elderly Crawford.  Speaking of the narrative, Fitzpatrick told Deadline

 I was enthralled by this story and the motives that drive a man near the end of his life on a quest to a place that must hold only painful memories.

Though the film boasts quite the celebrated leading man and a moving foundation of truth, it’s important to note that it’s “inspired by true events,” and, from the trailer alone, takes a little liberty with the facts.

The True Story Behind ‘The Last Rifleman’ 

Though the character’s name in the movie is Artie Crawford, the film is based on the true story of Bernard Jordan. On June 6, 1944,  Bernard Jordan participated in Operation Overlord (the codename for the Battle of Normandy that saw Allied forces work to liberate Gerrman-occupied Western Europe during World War II).

According to Military.com, Jordan used to proclaim that “what he did during the war was nothing unusual, and only what many thousands of others did for their country.” Yet, at 89 years old, the man decided he had a few wrongs to right…if he could. 

On June 5, 2014, Jordan left the Pines Care Home in Hove, England in his dust — after the Royal British Legion denied a trip to Normandy for the 70th anniversary. It’s important to note that it was not the care home staff that denied his expedition; they had full confidence in his mental and physical capabilities, but this may be altered for dramatic effect in the movie. 

The staff started to worry about him when he didn’t return that night and police began searching for him soon after. No one could figure out how Jordan launched his adventure after discussions with taxi drivers and bus operators proved fruitless. However, this classic commuter hopped on a ferry and then a train to Brighton that traveled from the English Channel to France. 

Later that night, a young veteran called the care home to let them know that Jordan was safe and sound at a hotel in Ouistreham. Though Jordan’s wife knew about his trip, and it was not much of a secret, the news ran with a more headline-friendly angle when his story leaked. Jordan quickly became the “Great Escapee.”

The next day, France welcomed 19 world leaders for a day of remembrance, including President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II. Jordan was in attendance — as were several other D-Day Veterans. The day after the event, despite all the media shenanigans that followed Jordan’s adventure, he returned to his care home, where he was welcomed with praise and a nice cup o’tea.

The Last Rifleman will be available to watch on Sky Cinema and NOW starting Sunday, November 5.


About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.