Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, Joey King, John Ortiz
Runtime: 1 hr 36 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Coarse Language and Drug Use)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 20 April 2017
Synopsis: Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin team up in Zach Braff's new comedy, "Going in Style"! Played by Freeman, Caine, and Arkin, lifelong buddies Willie, Joe and Al, decide to buck retirement and step off the straight-and-narrow for the first time in their lives when their pension fund becomes a corporate casualty. Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, the three risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.
You’ve got Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin - something’s gotta work, we say. Unfortunately, even this trio of legends fall flat in Zach Braff’s Going In Style, going through the entire film like a dress rehearsal.
It’s like that itch which you can’t really get to, or that sneeze that never came - the lines, written by Hidden Figures Theodore Melfi, are set up for some sassiness, but are ruined by awkward pauses and mistimed comedic rhythm. That’s not to say that the script is without fault. It dallies unnecessarily long at the front, developing side stories that then loiter without purpose throughout the rest of the film. The writing, is simply half-hearted.
Caine, Freeman and Arkin play retired co-workers Joe, Willie and Al, whose pension plans are wiped out as a casualty of corporate maneuvering. Desperate to maintain things for their loved ones, and partly fueled to do a Robin Hood in retaliation to institution greed, they embark on a plan to rob a bank, inspired by a recent success at their local bank.
The premise lends itself to comedy, and at times it seems that both writer and director come close to milking it for its worth. But Melfi’s writing seems disjointed and compiled, while Braff seemed to have his hands off the wheel. Was he intimidated by the cast? I would be. But that’s a disservice to all in the end, when the whole film’s pulse stays barely there, needing desperate resuscitation with some push.
Maybe they lacked coffee on set. Adding more burden to the pace, are the low-energy performances of Caine, Freeman, and Arkin. They recite their lines with nary a twitch in their faces, or if so, inappropriate to the circumstance. I’m not sure if they are outraged, sad, or joyful in many instances. In one case, I can even swear that Arkin forgot his line!
You can see the missed opportunities when some scenes that work pop in. There’s one when Caine finally checks-in, as he leaves parting words to his beloved granddaughter before the robbery. Finally, some emotion! And Freeman gives a dose of his nuance, when a little girl returns for a police lineup.
But largely, the cast plods along. Some gags are older than their combined age of 246. Is this Braff’s way of explaining the doldrums of geriatric life? If so, it totally misfired. As was the episode at Value Mart where the trio went for a trial stealing from a grocery store.
There’s some good times to be had during the actual heist. It stays brisk, and the comedy comes out in full swing, but it’s too little to go on for the almost-100-minute caper. Braff is ultimately the one to blame for foiling this expedition. This film is more tired than retired.
(Talented cast is wasted on poor material and direction in this lacklustre and doddering effort at comedy)
Review by Morgan Awyong