Film Review: GOING IN STYLE (USA 2017)

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going_in_style.jpgDirector: Zach Braff
Writers: Theodore Melfi (screenplay), Edward Cannon (based on the 1979 story by)
Stars: Joey King, Morgan Freeman, Ann-Margret

Review by Gilbert Seah

GOING IN STYLE is an updated remake of the 1979 caper movie of the same name that starred Oscar winners George Burns, Art Carney and Acting Coach Lee Strasberg . The main difference is that in the 1979 original, two of the three old cronies actually die in the film, making the title more appropriate. No one dies in the remake.

The three seniors in director Zach Braff’s 2017 version, are Joe (Michael Caine), Albert (Alan Arkin) and Willie (Morgan Freeman). The story is told primarily from Joe’s point of view. When the company they had worked for is bought out, their pensions become a casualty of the restructuring. When Joe meets up with the bank manager regarding the foreclosure on his house, he is inspired by a bank robbery that takes place during his visit. The three seniors decide to take back what is rightfully owed to them by the bank holding the company’s pension funds.

The script by Theodore Melfi gives each character their place in the story, Willie needs the money to visit his family more than once a year. Albert develops a love interest with Annie (Ann-Margaret). Joe has his separated daughter and granddaughter , Brooklyn (Joey King) live with him, so he cannot lose his house to the bank. FBI agent Hamer (Matt Dillon) pursues the trio with the clues he gets from the CCT. The three get caught in the original GOING IN STYLE, but the three here might just get away (no spoiler in this review.) They wear Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davies J. (sorry, Peter Lawford) masks as compared to the Groucho Brother masks in the original during the heist.

The film works better in the first third with a looser plot. Director Braff, who has more acting than directing in his resume (he was the main actor in GARDEN STATE; GOING IN STYLE is his directorial debut) proves himself more apt at comedy and getting the most out of his cast. The robbery scene is done more for comedy that suspense, which is clearly lacking during a typical robbery scene. Good thing too, is that sentimentality is kept to a minimum.

GOING IN STYLE is the typical inoffensive comedy (except for a bit of swearing thrown in clearly for good measure) with old people for old people. It is also good to watch these 3 Oscar Winners (Freeman, Caine and Arkin) together for the first time. Ann-Margaret still looks as stunning as ever and BACK TO THE FUTURE’s Christopher Lloyd is sufficiently funny as a forgetful senior. John Ortiz deserves mention as the dodgy character who helps the trio plan the robbery.

Though Michael Caine almost succeeds in pulling the film off, the film suffers from a weak narrative with the story going into three directions resulting in too many distractions. The film succeeds in delivering a few laughs. Another good thing is that no one can remember the original which was only a mediocre movie, so the 2017 movie should not disappoint many, especially when the target audience are seniors. (If the last statement is offensive to any senior, it should be noted that this film reviewer will be a senior pretty soon. Maybe I should start planning my own bank robbery.)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcdTN5soeQw

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