GOING IN STYLE (USA/12A/96mins)
Directed by Zach Braff. Starring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margaret, Joey King.
THE PLOT: After he witnesses a bank robbery, and learns that not only has his pension vanished, but his mortgage repayments have trebled, septuagenarian Joe (Michael Caine) convinces his lifelong pals Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) to pull off a daring heist, a heist on the very bank that dissolved their pension fund.
THE VERDICT: Directed by Zach Braff, and based on the 1979 crime caper film of the same name, ‘Going in Style’ is a charming film that lives and dies on the performances and chemistry between Arkin, Caine and Freeman.
Michael Caine leads the cast as Joe, a man who has refinanced his home, and finds himself in trouble when his pension vanishes and his mortgage trebles. Caine is not afraid to goof around and play up his age in the role, and his relationship with his friends and family in the film is warm and charming. Alan Arkin plays a more curmudgeonly character as Albert, and obviously has a whale of a time playing a cranky man who constantly talks about when he is going to die, and being “too old to hold a grudge”. Morgan Freeman plays Willie, a character with a secret, who just wants to “live better than I am”. The rest of the cast features Peter Serafinowicz, Christopher Lloyd, Joey King, Matt Dillon and Ann-Margaret.
Screenwriter Theordore Melfi – who previously brought us Hidden Figures and St. Vincent – has adapted the 1979 version of the film for this new remake. The story differs greatly from that of the original, making it less of a far-fetched caper, and more of a slightly less far-fetched justice by robbery tale, as well as a story with a warm heart and a decidedly happier ending. There are plenty of laughs throughout the film, and the central trio bring warmth and heart to their relationships with one another and their families. There are times when the warm up to the crime seems particularly over the top and unnecessary, however, and the ending of the film feels longer and more drawn out than it possibly needs to be.
As director Zach Braff steps away from the particular brand of existential whimsy that he is known for, and makes a heist film with plenty of laughs and heart. Braff shoots and directs the film like a crime caper, while adding in music choices that fans may not expect from the director. There are issues with pacing throughout the film, as well as some scenes played for laughs that do not necessarily fit in with the tone of the rest of the story, but with ‘Going in Style’, Braff proves that he is not just a one trick pony.
In all, ‘Going in Style’ is a warm and charming comedy that sometimes struggles slightly with pacing and tone. That said, Arkin, Caine and Freeman are wonderful together, and while it may seem like we have seen films like this before, there are enough laughs and charm to the film to make it an enjoyable ride, where the audience cannot help but root for three men who are obviously at the end of their tethers.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Whatever happened to Zach Braff? Not so much the actor, but the director of the wonderful Garden State. He took a decade to make his second film, Wish I Was Here and it didn’t quite live up to its predecessor. He’s gone further down the quality ladder with Going In Style, a bland studio film that is beneath his talents.

    Joe (Michael Caine) is getting on in his years. The bank is foreclosing on his house and the bank manager is unsympathetic. Joe has been right royally screwed by the bank. He witnesses a robbery in the bank by masked gunmen, who make off with several million dollars. He has a eureka moment and decides that he needs to get even with the bank the only way he knows how – by giving it a bloody nose. He ropes in similarly elderly pals Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) to his grand scheme of robbing the bank. They’re also in debt and could use some money to give to their families. The heist will require meticulous planning and some careful casing of the joint, to establish where the security cameras are and how long they have before the police arrive. They might just pull it off, as long as they can put FBI Agent Hamer (Matt Dillon) off the scent…

    Going In Style is a remake of the 1979 film of the same name. This reviewer hasn’t seen the original, so can only hope it’s better than this rather disappointing new take. Going In Style is the type of film you want to like from the outset. It’s got a great cast of familiar, amiable Hollywood old-timers, which also include seductive Ann-Margret and an addle-brained Christopher Lloyd. The concept of a bunch of men in their winter years pulling off a bank heist has an appealing ring to it. Particularly in the wake of the recent, devastating recession, when financial institutions were not exactly popular. It’s a concept that a cinemagoer can immediately get behind with an affectionate chuckle amid the ensuing antics. However, considering the pedigree of everyone involved, especially Braff, this reviewer was hoping for something more substantial.

    Theodore Melfi, who impressed greatly recently with Hidden Figures, has delivered a script which is souffle-light. It lacks the emotional depth that the characters so very much need, with the trio of leads struggling to raise it up to something approaching their unquestionable talents. There’s a certain laziness to the script, which never really gets going. Many of the gags in the film are more circumstantial than well-placed. The great Matt Dillon is completely wasted in a one-note role that says ‘cut and paste FBI Agent’. Braff doesn’t show the directorial quirkiness and warm humour that marked Garden State. His directorial style has been conformed to a cookie cutter studio film, similar to what happened to Kevin Smith and Cop Out. As the credits rolled, this reviewer got the distinct impression that the cast had more fun making this film than the audience will watching it. Going In Style is forgettable, instantly disposable fluff. **

  • emerb

    Zach Braff takes up the role of director for “Going In Style” which is the latest crime/comedy caper to arrive on our screens. It’s a remake of a 1979 Martin Brest film starring George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg and the script here is written by “Hidden Figures’” director Theodore Melfi. The film follows three cynical wise-cracking pensioners who find themselves destitute after their pensions are cancelled overnight and mortgage repayments soar. Sick of their current situation and sick of the banks that have taken so much from hard-working and decent Americans, they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

    Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) are three septuagenarians who have worked together at a steel manufacturer for decades and have different home situations. Joe, whose daughter and granddaughter live with him, is struggling to repay his mortgage. Willie never sees his family and is undergoing tests for kidney failure while Al is a sax player teaching untalented kids. The movie opens with Joe receiving a dubious letter about his mortgage and so pays a visit to his bank for clarification. While there, he becomes caught up in a bank robbery and is impressed by the skill with which the thieves pulled it off. In the meantime, the trio discover that the steel plant they worked for is to renege on their pensions and instead use the remaining funds to move their operations overseas. To make matters worse, the bank that refuses them personal loans is the same firm that’s overseeing the plant’s relocation. At the end of their tether, the desperate trio plot a heist on the very bank that stole their money. The bulk of the film is devoted to the intricate planning and execution of the caper and the aftermath of their crime when they have to concoct an elaborate alibi for the a dogged detective (Matt Dillon). The ultimate goal is to get revenge on the company and the bank that have wronged them.

    “Going In Style” makes for very leisurely, warm-hearted entertaining watching. It’s very enjoyable and its heart is in the right place. With a largely unoriginal bank robbery plot at its heart, it could have been just another old-timer comedy but it’s surprisingly fresh and lively. There has been a trend in recent times for having Hollywood veterans back having fun on the big screen, think The Bucket List, Last Vegas or Red and you have to admit that is always great pleasure to be had in putting a bunch of veteran actors together and watching them play off one another. Here, Freeman, Caine, and Arkin are just so charming with an utterly believable chemistry and authentic friendship between them. There may be relatively few unexpected twists in this comedy caper and it certainly takes very few creative risks but it’s the balance of humour, wit and sheer fun that make it next to impossible not to root for the revenge-seeking OAPs. None of the star trio are giving a career-best performance but they are clearly delighting in bouncing off one another and not taking it too seriously. I loved the ending of the film which is rather unconventional and reminds us that these “baddies” are inherently decent people in a tough situation. The movie also shows us the simmering resentment that still lingers towards the banks and other big financial players and the lengths people are prepared to go to in order to fight for what is rightfully theirs. This movie doesn’t break any records but it’s good-natured, engaging and extremely watchable, thanks largely to the star trio at its core.