An all-star ensemble of elderly gentlemen band together to pull off a million-dollar heist.

On paper, the idea of three legendary actors carrying out a heist on their own bank sounds fantastic, but Going In Style has a tonal identity crisis that robs it of a clean getaway.

A successful bank robbery witnessed by Joe (Michael Caine) plants a budding idea-sapling in his brain, which he decides to water to full bloom when his former employer puts a stop to his pension.  With his house at risk of repossession and his family depending on him, he enlists his two octogenarian buddies, Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin), as partners in crime.

going1Caine, Freeman, and Arkin are all woefully underserved by the script.

The script seems to be at odds with itself, sometimes blatantly yearning to be a madcap comedy, and the next minute a heartstring-yanking drama, but never settling in either camp long enough for you to fully invest your attention.  Joe’s relationship with his granddaughter will fill all but the frostiest-hearted of film-goers with the warm fuzzies, especially when he says goodbye for perhaps the last time just before the heist.  But then we have jarring, and ultimately unfunny, scenes such as the smug bank manager flailing his limbs skyward while meowing at the behest of a bank robber.

Moments that have a right to be outrageously hilarious, such as Morgan Freeman stealing a mobility scooter and blinding a pursuing security guard by trailing baking flour, fall flat as they follow otherwise dull proceedings and flat dialogue.  Similarly, Kenan Thompson plays the store manager, who scolds the trio for their misdeeds on a dry run for the heist.  He seems to approach the moment with a degree of restraint over himself, which is the polar opposite of what you want and expect from a Saturday Night Live regular.

The film subverted my strong expectations of being packed full of old people jokes (Christopher Lloyd’s cameo as the senile Milton ends up the butt of some harsh ones, though) but it forgets to fill the humour vacuum, leaving behind writing and wit as sharp as a touchscreen stylus.

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It’s a remake of a 1979 film of the same name, which starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg as the elderly protagonists.

The heist itself never has a sense of danger or urgency, and fails to approach the concept of three criminal pensioners in an inventive manner.  The Dark Knight did it, and to far superior effect, at the start of a movie that didn’t revolve around the fact.  It’s a very paint-by-numbers, straightforward heist with some forced comedy.  You know something’s going to go wrong, but you also know it’ll all be okay in the end, because no one wants to see a light-hearted movie about three men in their eighties doomed to die in prison.

Director Zach Braff’s tonal missteps can’t be saved even by a cabal of all-star talent – who, frankly, seem a little bored.  It’s terribly unexciting, and you can’t help but feel Going In Style has been robbed of its potential.

2/5

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