Going In Style director: Zach Braff
Going In Style cast: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret
Going In Style rating: 1.5
Banks which cheat, systems which don’t care for the poor, jobs which are being shipped overseas, elderly who pine for families, and a friend who has kept a fatal ailment hidden. There are so many cliches running through Going In Style that it is a miracle it got actors such as Caine, Freeman and Arkin to play along. It is a pity too, for Zach Braff of Scrubs fame fails to even build among them a chemistry to last.
A remake of a 1979 film by the same name, Going In Style can’t even lay claim to the original idea of three elderly men, on their last legs and pennies, planning a bank heist. But even if it had stuck to that central premise and what goes on before and after that robbery, Braff could have had a winner. Instead, a long prelude leads up to that 3-minute robbery, and a hasty conclusion follows to wrap it up.
In the prelude we see Joe (Caine), Willie (Freeman) and Al (Arkin) slipping slowly into desperation as their pension funds are frozen when the factory they worked in downs shutters, combined by their various individual problems. Joe stumbles upon the idea of robbing a bank after surviving one such theft, and being treated kindly by, of course, the robber, who talks of “corrupt systems not caring for their own people”. On the other hand, the banker is a mean guy who has tied up Joe’s house in reams of paperwork and legalese.
Willie has a failing kidney he hasn’t told the others about, and lives with Al as his only family, a daughter and a grandchild, live in another town and he can’t see them that often. Al’s pain is his failed ambition to be a musician.
A friendly diner — with a familiar friendlier waitress — eases their woes by offering them pies to warm their days.
You may surmise that a bank heist won’t prove easy for three men in their condition and age, but the film has other ideas. Incidentally, the original knew better than to fall to that temptation.
Eventually, the only part of Going In Style that really works — proving what it could have pulled off with actors of this calibre at its disposal — is the attempted trial theft by them at a convenience store. It ends with two of them being caught by a security woman on foot, as they try to get away on a battery-operated basket. Now we are talking.