Sunday, February 11, 2018

Going in Style (2017)

Joe (Michael Caine) took a hard look at himself, his friends Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) and concluded that they should rob a bank. Age is going up, money is going down, and family that depend on them still around.

There’s a point in life when things are seen more as a countdown, but the point is it doesn’t have to be sad. 

Joe considered the numbers: their age and needs, risk and reward, failure of the system; robbing a bank was just a line in the sand. They’re all going out anyway so why not take a chance to go out in style.


Typical of heist stories, Going in Style is bland if not totally annoying missing the typical tone of heist movies which is comedy or at least lighthearted. It failed because for a heist movie to work any and all aspects of the crime has to be believable.

You have to believe in the chemistry of the protagonists who are out to steal. This means that they not only have to look good together, which is a plus, but also that the combination of their skills makes the robbery possible.

You also have to believe that the protagonists have an equal opportunity in getting caught. In others words, the police or any and all authority figures have to be credible.

On both points the movie failed. There’s bad chemistry and total lack of skills all around. The authorities are a joke that the bank should have just handed over the money to save time. 

What movie is successful in selling – overselling – is that growing old is a bitch especially if strapped of cash.

Casting and Chemistry

Based on past roles Michael Caine reminds me of a butler and Morgan Freeman has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, President, and God

I’m not saying that Freeman taking the lead is better than Caine but when I see Willie he feels restrained instead of it being a free flowing dynamic of friends, like he exists only to agree with Joe. 

Yet despite having a leadership role Joe is not so different from Willie. Basically they cancel each other out. Both of them have granddaughters they’re so fond of. None of them have skills to rob a bank which is where Albert comes in.

And I am being generous with use of the word skills. Albert’s only advantage is that he is the grumpy old man which is the aggressiveness that proves useful in robbing a bank. He is the wild card in the mix in that he gets a girlfriend and not a granddaughter. 

It could have been cute but problem is Alan Arkin has no range at all. He doesn’t sound or look happy having a girl; grumpy old man to the end albeit no longer single.

Annie Santori (Ann Margaret), the girlfriend, seduces like she’s 20 to which Al, lacking a romantic aura in his body, begrudgingly agrees to the woman’s advances. Does the scene have to cut to an after-sex moment though?

Finding love at that age is certainly interesting but I would have liked something more playful like Betty White or Miriam Margoyles since the general atmosphere being aimed here is a comedy. Any one with bubbly personality to counter Arkin would have been welcome.

What’s missing and could have made the drama more endearing are the granddaughters. Sure they have scenes; Joe and Willie always had theirs in mind going into the job; but their overall effect is minuscule as if they are only there as an accident; for it to be said that the old man did it for family.



I have seen stories about experience trumping the arrogant youth and this is not that movie. 

It’s ‘taking care of the elderly’ vs ‘the misadventures of three old men robbing a bank’. The story never made up its mind which side to be in. Robbing a bank is a serious crime. Misadventures should always mean prison or death. 

The three having decided on the crime are presented as going against all odds. They were never made into hard core experienced criminals to maintain the pity, to never lose sight that there should be a system for the elderly and it failed.

Wechsler Steel, the company which the three friends had given all their lives to, disregarded all financial obligations to workers, past and present, under the legal guise of a merger. 

The three friends, partly motivated by revenge, only want to take in the amounts of what is rightfully theirs; any excess will be given away. Joe, Willie, and Albert have experience but not the required experience. Remember, a heist story requires belief in the crime and the ability to pull it off or the chance of getting caught.

They went on a practice run which is obviously a joke because no rookie shoplifter would ever make the mistake of walking out with food items bulging out of their clothing. 

The lady guard had Joe in her sights inside the store, canned goods obviously hidden in his coat, and still Joe managed to get chased in the street. How can she miss that?

Jesus (John Ortiz) is the authority on criminal behavior in the story, hired by the three to act as consultant, teach them how to rob a bank.

His first lesson was ‘do not shit in your own back yard’ or for the movie’s case ‘do not rob your own bank’. It was the one lesson he never got to give  because Joe insisted on robbing his own bank and it is disappointing Jesus never corrected the old man despite it being a wise advice – inside and outside of criminal behavior.

With the two highlighted authority figures on each side, Jesus and the lady guard, unable to do what their characters are supposed to do, it set the credibility to stopping and doing the crime down the drain.  

It was further compounded by inexcusable failure to implement physical and time requirements, countermeasures that needed to be set to throw off investigations. At the end of it all, neither the bank staff nor police managed to capitalize on any of those mistakes.

Going in Style ends with unexpected help to the three, all meant to elicit emotion that people out there are always willing to look out for the elderly. 

Typical of heist movies it also had the ‘review’, scenes that show how the crime was pulled off successfully. Because the authorities are a joke unable to capture persons so physically unable or even prevent it all from happening, these ending scenes were ultimately hollow.

A heist movie doesn't work with just lucky enough to have pull off the perfect crime.

No comments:

Post a Comment