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|Going in Style|
dir Zach Braff
scr Theodore Melfi
prd Donald De Line
with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, John Ortiz, Joey King, Peter Serafinowicz, Josh Pais, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Kenan Thompson
release US/UK 7.Apr.17
17/US Warners 1h36
When a plan comes together: Freeman, Caine and Arkin
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A goofy remake of the bittersweet 1979 caper comedy, this film feels timely in the way its story has been adapted to the present day, encompassing things like junk mortgages and soulless multinationals. It's also been dumbed down for today's audiences, but at least the powerhouse trio of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin keep us entertained.
After Joe (Caine) discovers that his refinanced mortgage is impossible to repay, the company where he worked for 40 years is bought and liquidated. This means that he and his pals Willie and Albert (Freeman and Arkin) lose their pensions. So in a moment of desperation, they hatch a plan to rob the bank and get their money back. To set their heist in motion, they seek advice from a criminal (Ortiz). Meanwhile, Willie is stuck on a long list waiting for a kidney transplant, and Albert falls for flirty supermarket clerk Annie (Ann-Margret).
Unlike the original film, there are very few dark edges here. Instead of meaningfully exploring the realities of retired life in a rather harshly dispassionate system, Melfi's screenplay and Braff's direction opt for slapstick silliness. There are moments of thoughtfulness along the way, and the issues at the centre are real ones, but the film only has entertainment on its mind. So it clips along at a snappy pace, bringing in a few broadly nutty side characters along the way and adding some children and grandchildren to gently stoke the embers of sentimentality.
While there isn't much to the characters, Freeman goes far beyond the call, bringing Willie to life with unexpected resonance. His internal journey is genuinely moving. Arkin also gets the chance to add some edge, as Albert has his own odyssey from an apathetic curmudgeon to a life-loving spark. By contrast, Caine is enjoyably solid in his usual role, gliding through the film without needing to put in too much effort.
While there are no big melodramatic twists along the way, at least Braff manages to stoke up some excitement in the zippy heist-preparation montage sequence. And there's also some proper suspense in the robbery itself, as well as the investigation by Dillon's hang-dog FBI agent. But since the film never really bothers exploring the themes of ageing or economics, aside from making jokes about them, it all feels lighter than air. There's plenty of fun while it lasts, then it's time for us to go back to the grind.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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