Joe (Michael Caine), aging, out of a job, no pension, defaults on his mortgage and is on the verge of losing his house. To solve this problem and stick it to those who wronged him in the process, he decides to recruit his friends (Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin) to help him rob a bank.
Zach Braff’s direction in Going in Style yields a social problem comedy that is atonal and lacking in spite of its energy. Scenes of characters bemoaning the loss of their pension is juxtaposed with a screwball scene of the three twilight ne’er-do-wells running around the parking lot of a convenience store to wild pans and anachronistic hip hop music (to be fair, the soundtrack is one of the better aspects of the film).
The chemistry between three legendary actors is the best aspect. It is not dissatisfying to see them in scenes together, and they make better use of the tone shifts than the script does. Caine, in particular, jumps to either side of that line with grace.
The movie, without these three, is nothing. There is little to grasp onto in terms of comedy or commentary, and when there is something to be said about one the other comes in to undercut the effectiveness. The flashy style of rapidly edited heist sequences and meandering split screens doesn’t add much beyond flair.
There is a lack of depth and breadth to the film. The characters all serve the purpose we expect them to—Caine is the master planner, but he’s also a sympathetic character because he’s the father figure to his granddaughter (Joey King); Freeman is the guy with nothing to lose, and he’s sympathetic because he has a failing kidney with no means of fixing it; Arkin is the reluctant curmudgeon, but he’s sympathetic because…he gets laid?
Aside from the rapport of the three leads, the film fails to bring anything to the table worth remembering. If ever there were a forgotten-on-impact comedy, it’s Going in Style.
Going in Style: C
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)