Blu-ray Review: ‘Going In Style’ Is Lighthearted And Engaging

Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.

With Hollywood churning out remake after remake at an alarming rate, one would think that somewhere along the way, they’d manage to get one right. After all, with the “reimaginings,” as Hollywood likes to call them instead, of such classics as “Conan the Barbarian,” “Psycho,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Halloween,” and “Total Recall,” to name but a few, for the most part, they are insulting to audiences’ intelligence everywhere. They are supposed to be an improvement on the original but many are basically shot-by-shot carbon copies that add nothing new to the overall scope of the story. Some remakes actually improve upon the original, I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s “The Magnificent Seven” over its predecessor, and “Assault on Precinct 13” was a huge improvement on Carpenter’s lackluster original but they are mainly far and few between. The original “Going In Style,” which starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, and which was released in 1979, was fun for its day but like so many features from that era, it has become outdated and antiquated. With this latest revamp, director Zach Braff (yes, J.D. from “Scrubs”) successfully employs three of today’s most recognizable Hollywood “senior citizens,” Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin, all Oscar winners and because of them, they help elevate this title above what could have been very uninspired material indeed.

Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine), and Albert (Alan Arkin) are three lifelong friends who are enjoying their retirement. Willie and Albert are roommates while Joe lives right across the road from them, where his daughter and granddaughter live with him. One day, Joe receives a statement from his bank, letting him know that his adjustable mortgage rate has just tripled. When he goes to the bank to try and resolve the matter, three masked men enter the building, steal over $1 million in cash, and then leave. Soon thereafter, Willie, Joe, and Albert are informed that the factory that employed them for over thirty years, is being bought out by a foreign company and as a result, everyone’s pensions are being dissolved. When Joe receives a letter from his bank, stating that he has thirty days to pay his loan or his house will foreclose, he tells Willie and Albert that they should rob a bank. Naturally, they think he is insane but he reminds them that the big banks have made so much money off of the working class and that it’s time for a little payback. Initially hesitant, when the news about their pensions finally sinks in, and all three men realize they will have nothing to live on, they agree to the plan. With a little help from Joe’s ex-son-in-law Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz), he hooks them up with Jesus (John Ortiz), a local, small time criminal who agrees to teach them the ropes on how to rob a bank, for a cut of the pie. Now all they have to do is prepare, and hope that their pacemakers don’t give out.

Director Zach Braff has constructed an entertaining and always engaging comedy. Freeman, Caine, and Arkin are three actors who have proved throughout their illustrious careers, that they are more than capable of handling the heavy, dramatic roles that have come their way but here, it’s very obvious that they are having fun with their roles. There are some occasional heartfelt moments, like when one of the guys is informed that he needs a kidney transplant, and soon, otherwise, he may not see the end of the year, but we are in the hands of masters, and scenes like this are a walk in the park for these pros. The movie incorporates elements of “Ocean’s Eleven” and other heist movies, scoping the bank out, watching the security guards and tellers, overseeing the flow of traffic for a certain time of day but keeps it based in realism, especially taking into consideration the ages and conditions of our protagonists. You pretty much know how the movie is going to end but just when you think they’ve gotten away with it, Matt Dillon’s smug detective throws a spanner into the works and makes you realize that maybe it won’t go according to plan after all. Of course, the question of integrity arises, robbing a bank is wrong but screenwriter Theodore Melfi places our trio of friends in such a quandary, that within the confines of the story, robbing a bank is the only logical solution. And, given the fact that the loan officer at the bank who dealt with Michael Caine earlier in the film, was arrogant, pompous, and ever so cocky (read between the lines for that last one), it only makes you cheer more for our senior heroes.

Own Going In Style on Blu-ray and DVD on August 1 or Own it Now on Digital HD!

James McDonald
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