Published on April 19th, 2017 | by Conor Bromhead
Going in Style – Film Review
Reviewed by Conor Bromhead on the 19th of April 2017
Roadshow Films presents a film by Zach Braff
Produced by: Donald De Line
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin
Screenplay by: Theodore Melfi
Music by: Rob Simonsen
Edited by: Myron I. Kerstein
Running Time: 96 mins
Release Date: the 20th of April 2017
Another week, another remake in the land of Hollywood. Few remember it and fewer asked for another one but now Going in Style from 1979 is getting the treatment with an update of the same name – and this time the old folks have smartphones. The base premise remains the same, three lifelong friends and retired factory workers living off their pensions decide to rob a bank; however, the modern twist is that the trio are losing their pensions due to their company moving to Vietnam, all the while being screwed over by their bank. These old timers are getting even with the system rather than just getting rich quick.
Michael Caine headlines as Joe, the most cockney man in Brooklyn despite purportedly living there for at least a half century. In the midst of losing his house to the bank Joe is caught up in a heist, thus planting the idea in his mind to pull off a bank job of his own making. He is joined by Morgan Freeman’s Willie, a family man with a heart of gold and failing kidneys, and Alan Arkin’s frisky, doddering Albert as the trio hatch a scheme to rob their local bank.
Just as the trio vie to have their pie and eat it Going in Style finds itself in a limbo between the ridiculousness of its’ scenario and telling a heart-warming story of three ageing victims of society. While the characters are sympathetic and there are laughs, neither facet is embraced to it’s full potential. Joe’s family and Willie’s health issues serve to anchor the film but they’re glossed over too quickly to have any significant impact. However, they do have enough focus to detract from the kooky irreverence of the heist plan. Either the comedy or the drama should have taken a much higher priority, preferably the former as the gang’s trial heist on a supermarket is hilarious. The gravity of the drama is further diminished by the movie inhabiting a world of Hollywood inconsequence, while there hardly needed to be a forty minute segment on their money laundering plans as everything just seems to magically work out in a glossy, plastic fashion. The movie feels like a Hollywood fabrication following a checklist to be an American PG-13, right down to a single pinpointed F-bomb. Everything about the tone feels at odds with itself; the drama and comedy seek to cancel each other out and there is just slightly too much drugs and smut to be a completely family friendly endeavour.
These are three Oscar winning actors though, as a trio they have great chemistry and their banter doesn’t get tiring; even if it is always accompanied by what sounds like generic ‘inquisitive’ royalty-free theme music. There is also an amusing–if one-note–supporting cast, including Christopher Lloyd and Peter Serafinowicz. The comedy is usually of the feel-good smiling variety rather than laugh-out-loud funny and the drama never earns its gravity. Using older actors isn’t even a novelty anymore due to similar geriatric capers like Golden Years (2016) and Stand Up Guys (2012). Even with nothing to separate it from the pack Going in Style is an innocuous but ultimately enjoyable afternoon watch with smiles aplenty. For a movie like this there are much, much worse people to spend your time with than Caine, Freeman, and Arkin. Or you could always wait a few years and get Going in Style: Baby Boomer Edition.
Summary: An overly familiar, tonally zig-zagging, but ultimately enjoyable feel-good geriatric caper.