It might be my age, or it could just be I like these kinds of films, so when Going in Style puts together Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin you’d need some kind of empty soul if you didn’t love seeing them working together on-screen, and if you had no feelings towards events taking place in front of you.
Directed by Zach Braff, and based on the 1979 original by Martin Brest, the man who also brought us Midnight Run and Beverly Hills Cop, the film is about three lifelong-friends who slowly being pushed out of their pensions and the system, so they decide to rob the bank who are unethically taking all their money away. In this era, it’s difficult not to empathise with their plight and easily approve their plan of criminality; it’s even easier when it’s Michael Caine in the lead role convincing you it’s for the greater good.
Theodore Melfi is on screenplay duty, a man who was behind the excellent Bill Murray-starring St Vincent and more recently the smart, important Hidden Figures, my 5-star review is here for that one, and he returns to writing duties with Going in Style but backed by Zach Braff, a man who knows his warm comedy from his days in Scrubs but also well-adjusted emotional dramas, such as Garden State and Wish I Was Here.
To re-summarise, Going in Style follows Willie (Freeman), Joe (Caine), and Al (Arkin), who are either counting their days to death, hiding important health news from each other or trying to help their grandkids get a good education. Whilst they are your usual older folk, who’ve worked hard for their pensions, they’re about to lose everything due to a dissolving company and they’ve been mis-sold plans by questionable bank ethics. The story is significant but it’s not over-played, it’s very much to-the-point and focuses on the fact it affects everyday people.
Braff leads the direction by bringing forth the emotion centre of Caine’s Joe, a grandfather who just wants to do the best for his daughter and granddaughter, played by Joey King. After various amusing and moving happenings, Joe comes up with a plan to rob the very bank that’s taking their lives away and in time convinces buddies Willie and Al to get involved as well. We then witness various madcap moments of trying to shoplift, finding amusing ways to get away from crime scenes quickly and reminding us they’re doing it for the ‘right’ reasons.
Going in Style works because of the perfect chemistry of the Academy Award-winning leads, and there are even a few cameos that fit in effortlessly with the feel-good nature of events. There are also a few clever twists and turns that keep the interest going and it’s easy to sit back and enjoy, something I’ve also done with the likes of ‘older’ actor comedy films like Last Vegas which had similar themes. Overall, Braff and the team bring forth your classic comedy caper and give it a modern edge, whilst also allowing the cast time to relax, reflect and reveal another side of their impressive talents.