Movie Review: ‘Going In Style’
The American Dream can come true whenever you want it to. Going In Style, director Zach Braff’s remake of the 1979 senior citizen crime caper film opens in wide release this weekend. Starring Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman in cantankerous comedic roles, Style makes a fine vehicle for these screen legends.
Joe (Michael Caine) is a retired steelworker who is having serious money issues. He visits his bank to discover his house is in foreclosure and that he’s no longer receiving his pension checks. To make matters worse, a bank robbery takes while Joe is there, leaving him shocked yet impressed with how effortlessly the criminals pulled off the theft.
Joe recounts the tale to his two best friends Albert (Alan Arkin) and Willie (Morgan Freeman) – both of whom are also dealing with similar financial issues to Joe. They attend a presentation at their former steel mill to discover their pension fund has been dissolved and they will no longer be receiving their checks.
Desperate and inspired by his prior ordeal, Joe suggests that the three of them rob a bank in an attempt to get back what is rightfully theirs. Willie and Albert are both skeptical at first, but soon agree to Joe’s plan and the septuagenarians set off to execute the perfect bank robbery.
Going In Style is a very nice little crime caper film. It doesn’t reinvent the genre, it barely adds anything new to the genre than has existed since this plot device first hit the screen. However, when the leads are this great, it’s enough to separate it from the typical crime pack.
Braff moves the film at a near-perfect clip, wasting no time in establishing his characters and setting up twists that pay off wonderfully as the plot unfolds. This film is a far cry from his more experimental first two films, but Braff proves himself to be a solid mainstream comedy director as he delivers a film that finds the right tone and pacing immediately and never wavers.
A refreshing aspect of this film is that it avoids finding much of his humor in ageism. There’s the odd joke about how quickly they’ll move and a chase scene involving a rascal, but mostly this film treats its elderly leads with complete respect and never uses their advanced age as a tool to instill disbelief in their ability to pull off the perfect crime.
Much of that comes from the three leads whose gravitas certainly add a major touch of class to the film. With actors of this caliber carrying the film, the main characters become instantly respectable which is essential in making the main conceit of the film believable. Of course, it’s helpful that each actor is delightful and totally in his element carrying this film slightly past the typical crime caper.
Going In Style accomplishes everything it sets out to do effortlessly and with great fun. Getting these three screen legends together is reason enough to see it, but with good laughs, quick pacing and a surprising amount of relevance about how big businesses continues to screw overs the workers who built them, Style is a notch above where it deserves to be.
And so easily it almost feels like stealing.
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