tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Going in Style’ Succeeds at Being Mediocre

Lameness reigns in this middle-of-the-road comedy.

NBHD movie 2 ticketsGoing in Style opens on senior citizen Joe (Michael Caine) at his bank, being told that his mortgage payment has tripled. That’s when a group of three men come and rob and the bank. This experience stays with Joe, especially as the company he spent thirty years at moves away and takes away everyone’s pension. He talks his two best friends Willie and Albert (Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin) into robbing a bank with him. With the help of a more seasoned criminal, they put together a plan that might just help them walk away will over a million dollars.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.53.02 AMThe film is technically a remake of the 1979 Martin Brest film of the same name, starring George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney in the three main roles. But aside from the basic premise of three older gentlemen robbing a bank, this movie doesn’t really resemble the original film. That was a darker creature of a film that could openly acknowledge that what its main characters were doing was essentially wrong. This film tries much harder to make its bank robbing seniors seem like the good guys in this story, which ends up being a pretty uninteresting choice.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.55.17 AMThe film panders to the idea of banks pretty much being evil. It even goes all in on creating a bank manager figure that is never anything more than a sniveling pile of garbage. There is, of course, merit in the depiction of banks being complicit in all manner of suffering caused to people, old or otherwise, but the film plays it so cartoonishly that it can’t be taken seriously. It uses the financial crisis as an empty reference, contriving a situation that feels over-the-top even given the very real absurdities that have banks have been known to take part in.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.56.19 AMThere is no room in this film for even an inkling of a suggestion that these guys might be doing the wrong thing. The bank manager is an irredeemable good. The FBI agent investigating them is a buffoon. With the adversaries so incompetent, there’s no real tension in this story. Even in moments when things seemingly go wrong, there’s never any real sense that these characters are in danger. The film is so averse to darkness that it just doesn’t seem possible that anything bad could happen to these people.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.53.45 AMThe movie is directed by Zach Braff, but you wouldn’t really know it. There is no trace of a personal signature in any of the sequences, no attempt to be anything other than middling. To that end, any entertainment gleaned from this film comes from the actors, who are all trying really hard to elevate the material. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin are basically just doing what they always do, playing aspects of characters they’ve played before. But they’re giving it their all, and that’s much more than you can say about the rest of the picture.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 11.06.32 AMGoing in Style aims squarely for the middle. It seems to want to be as bland as possible, its jokes never rising above cute, its general tenor never really allowing for the darkness of the premise to creep in. So it ends up being thoroughly dull, the movie just unwilling to break out of the confines of the mainstream light comedy, in spite of the fact that its very premise involves these men at the end of their lives taking up weapons in order to commit a crime. It starts to feel like the movie is going out of its own way to be lame.

Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
Back to Top