Going in Style could have nabbed the zeitgeist, but it doesn’t. The Zach Braff-directed remake of the 1979 film sees three old men, frustrated at the elimination of the pensions caused by corporate outsourcing and restructuring, decide to rob their equally malfeasant bank, which seems like a story you can say a lot with in 2017, but the fire here is more comforting warmth than the blazing war torch it could have been.
It’s good to see Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman actually get lead roles for once, at least. Joe (Caine) sets things off when he witnesses a bank robbery while trying to get out of the foreclosure his bank pretty fraudulently pushed him into. He lives with his daughter and granddaughter, who he helps support, in inverse of Willie (Freeman), who can’t afford to travel to see his own family more than once a year. Cranky jazz musician and Willie’s roommate Albert (Arkin) form the trio, who, upon learning they’ll be broke thanks to said pension loss, get fed up with American capitalism screwing them over, and plan to rob their bank (which, in being paid to handle the restructuring, is effectively stealing their pensions), the amount they’re owed.
It’s kind of enjoyable, in no smart thanks to the charm and talent of the leads who get to cut loose a bit more than they usually do, but the sense of justice that could be the center of this movie is mostly pushed to the sides in favor of the “old people can still do things!” aspect. That aspect of the script, by Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), is equally valid too, but where the anti-corporate bank heist stuff is pretty unique for Hollywood, the aging plots are way more Hollywood-standard, even if the actors make them as emotionally touching as they can—I mean Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine tearing up over their granddaughters is hard to defend against.
Aside from the few bits of it the characters actually watch on TV, Going In Style is pretty far off from the incisive fervor of the more classic bank heist of Dog Day Afternoon. It didn’t have to be the same—as the characters point out, the end of that 70’s movies is a lot more of a downer. Taking a more upbeat tone, though, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the urgency beneath it.
Review by Charlie Heller, exclusive to LAWestMedia.com
Images from Warner Bros. Pictures