There’s nothing terribly wrong with “Going In Style,” the comedy crime caper about aging steel workers who plan a bank heist after being robbed of their pensions.
But for a film starring three Academy Award winners, director Zach Braff’s adaptation of the 1979 movie of the same name just feels flat. “Going In Style” is a leisurely stroll through the park rather than the raucous joyride audiences may have expected going into the theaters.
Senior citizens Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Al (Alan Arkin) have worked together for decades, but a poor economy has left them out of work and without their pensions. When Joe observes a bank robbery take place, he gathers his longtime friends together to settle the score and make their families whole.
It’s impossible to discuss the performance of any one of the leads without the other two, mainly because the characters Arkin, Caine and Freeman play are so interchangeable and shades of the same basic archetype: senior gentleman doing bad for altruistic purposes.
The chemistry between the trio is considerable and makes up most of the best moments within “Going In Style.” Banter between Joe, Willie and Al is dynamically genuine and the three actors feel like they’ve been friends for years.
Scenes involving all three leads work better than any single subplot – Joe’s house has been foreclosed on, Willie can’t afford to fly cross-country to see his granddaughter and Al is getting romantically involved with a supermarket employee. Each of the three leads is given ample screen time to shine on their own, but it’s hard as a viewer not to want “Going In Style” to rush the trio back together again.
“Back To The Future” star Christopher Lloyd makes the most of his short time on screen as aloof, misguided lodge buddy Milton. There’s so much charm in Lloyd’s effortless performance that it’s constantly heart-warming to see Milton every time he shows up. It’s the perfect supporting role of the movie. Milton appears often enough to get a laugh or two at his expense, but not so often that the returns diminish in quality.
Ann-Margret is a welcome surprise as Al’s love interest Annie, though nothing in her small supporting performance is remarkably dissimilar to her turn in the “Grumpy Old Men” movies.
Braff is not the best choice to direct “Going In Style” as he lacks the vision necessary to adapt Theodore Melfi’s script into a crisp, energetic comedy. His films work best when he directs his own material, which reflect the slow, plodding mumblecore genre of movies Braff helped create with pictures like his 2004 effort “Garden State.”
Melfi should have taken the reins on the film, coming off of back to back success directing his screenplays for 2014’s “St. Vincent” and the 2016 Academy Award nominated box-office hit “Hidden Figures.” Both of those films have a more engaging, character-driven pace that Melfi could have infused “Going In Style” with to make the overall experience more enjoyable.
You can’t really go too wrong with Freeman, Caine and Arkin headlining a movie, though “Going In Style” isn’t exactly a strong entry in the filmography of any of the Oscar winners.
The “go big or go home” mentality of the bank heist plot doesn’t particularly mesh well with the low energy screen adaptation, making “Going In Style” a largely forgettable movie experience.
Audiences already planning a trip to the theaters might consider “Going In Style” as a better option than other critical and commercial misses, but it’s not a film worth going out of your way to see as soon as possible.