Warner Bros. thought it would be a good idea to produce a heist film in order to capitalize on the Fast & Furious’ massive popularity. Since that franchise has turned into Ocean’s Eleven on wheels, it was high time Warners returned to the genre they helped define (they distributed the Ocean’s series). And with The Fate of the Furious now in theaters, releasing the latest from actor-director-writer Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State) a week before is ingenious. But is Going in Style, a remake of the 1979 Martin Brest-directed picture (which starred George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney), a good film compared to the Fast & Furious behemoth? It depends on what you prefer – aging men (played by Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin) who sigh at the thought of simply getting up from a chair (and with no criminal experience); or young, virile men and women pulling off unbelievable stunts with a penchant for fast cars. I think many would opt for the latter, but it’s wholly unbelievable cartoonish nature may turn off many, especially if they’re yearning for something more poignant and realistic.

That’s not to say this version of Going in Style is a documentary. Its delivery is akin to Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy – it’s light and funny, relies on its actors to drive the story, and prefers sleight of hand. This heist comedy delivers (for the most part) although the old-men-doing-young men-stuff routine seems, well, seems old and tired.

Caine plays Joe, a retiree whose pension is about to be pulled. His friends, Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin), worked alongside Joe for decades at the same company, so they’re losing their pensions, too. With eviction and mounting debt looming, Joe is inspired by a bank robbery he witnessed and decides to rob the very bank that’s pulling his pension (and which he happens to also patronize). Joe brings in Willie and Albert, and they’re ready to go.But there’s one problem – they’re not criminals! The gang decides to “train,” and they are shown the ropes by Jesus (John Ortiz), after they cut him in whatever they steal from the bank. Of course, hijinks ensue and viewers are left to see if those hijinks translate into entertainment.

Style is serviceable, but it certainly won’t make you forget a classic like Ocean’s Eleven (or The Town, Inside Man, even 2003’s The Italian Job, for that matter). Braff, though, did well to rely mostly on the talents of Caine, Freeman and Arkin. They allow Style to be memorable – their chemistry is undeniable and organic. And what has become the norm for him, Arkin is a scene-stealer, especially since he has a love-interest in Ann-Margaret.

Despite that, Style lacks humor and doesn’t take many risks. When the fellas attempt to rob a grocery as a sort-of dry run, they fail miserably at accomplishing their crime (and they fail to ensure laughs). What’s more upsetting is that the funniest portions of that grocery heist were already shown in the trailer. Style’s most hilarious scenes involve Arkin (of course), since his Albert bucks convention with his… “active” relationship.

Going in Style lacks originality and Braff has directed better. Its themes have been explored before and executed better in other features, and it’s predictable. But the opportunity to see Freeman, Caine and Arkin together in the same film should be welcome. Style gets bonus points thanks to the appearance of Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future). It’s disappointing that this wasn’t leaps and bounds amazing, but it’s worth a look if you’re starved for something to watch.

3 stars out of 5

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It would be great if you subscribed to our RSS feed or signed up for email updates to get more goodness. There’s lots more where this came from!

blog comments powered by Disqus