Movie Review: “Going in Style”
Going in Style
Joe (Michael Caine) is frustrated with his bank because they have significantly increased his mortgage payments and he cannot make those payments because his employer is witholding his pension. With having increased payments, and nothing to pay with, the bank threatens to take Joe's home. When he goes to the bank to try to sort this out, he finds himself in the middle of an armed robbery. Joe is not harmed, but is shocked when he discovers that the robbers made off with over a million dollars and that the police have no leads.
He tells this story to his two best friends and coworkers: Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin). The group has recently learned that their company is moving overseas and that their pensions will no longer be coming. They are too old to start a new career, and their company's recent decisions will result in the three men most likely working until they die. Not willing to take this sitting down, Joe suggests to the others that they rob the bank that has stolen their money. Angry, and with nothing to lose, Willie and Albert agree. Thus, their million dollar heist begins.
The Pros & Cons
The Trio (+8pts)
The Plan (-6pts)
Alan Arkin (+3pts)
Dumb Cops (-4pts)
Pro: The Trio (+8pts)
Most of the fun from this movie came from watching these three actors (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin) interacting with one another. They were coworkers, they were neighbors, and they were best friends who were all dealing with a troubling financial situation that they all shared. They were all dealing with their own old age, and were all dealing with having to face the last chapter of their lives with no money. The three actors had great chemistry and it was fun to watch their conflicting views throughout their adventure. I also thought the drama and comedy were balanced well between the three of them. When one or two characters had dramatic moments, the others stayed comedic, and all three actors were just as effective in comedic moments as they were in dramatic ones. This allowed each character to shine in different moments and in different ways which is something I think worked well for this movie, as the varying dynamic between these characters made it so that the movie never felt dull or redundant.
Con: The Plan (-6pts)
A lot of this film's impact depended on how well the plan was setup, as well as how well it was executed by the characters (leaving some room for comedic error). Sure it was a comedy, but the entire plot of this movie was based around this heist, so in order to be invested in it, the plan needed to be at least somewhat believable, and the audience needed to feel like the protagonists had a chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, I thought the plan was weak and full of holes. Now I have not robbed too many banks in my day, so I am not exactly an expert on the matter, but the alibi they used seemed flimsy at best and the security at the bank seemed very light—especially seeing as how it had just been robbed days prior. The getaway also seemed too uncertain. These issues mixed together and made for a bad plan, which would have been fine if Joe, Willie, and Albert did not seem overly confident, acting like they had outsmarted the cops with their elaborate plan. I know this was a comedy so it should not be taken too seriously, but I think this movie would have worked a lot better if the audience thought the protagonists’ plan could actually work.
Pro: Alan Arkin (+3pts)
Alan Arkin was easily the most effective comedic relief of this movie. While Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman carried the plot for the majority of the story, Alan Arkin hit the audience with some great comedic moments. His comments about hating life, himself, and old age hit me in just the right way. He was the angry one and he was the depressed one, but both were presented in a comedic way. I always like seeing Alan Arkin pop up in movies and this one was no different. He was the blunt comedic relief in a movie filled with silliness, and I thought this movie was definitely better for having him in it.
Con: Blanks (-2pts)
To be honest, this was a pretty minor issue, but I thought it was worth noting. The characters in this movie used blank bullets in their guns. They did so to be intimidating, while also ensuring that no one got hurt. This decision made sense for the characters, so I was okay with it.
My problem was with the manner in which the blanks were shot. There was one moment in the film in which the blanks were blatantly shot at a person for comedic effect. It was an amusing moment, but my problem was with what happened afterward: nothing. Everyone saw that the bullets they were using were fake, but no on acted on this information (including a security guard). Anyone could have stopped them now that they knew the guns they had were harmless, but no one did, which made the blanks a pretty glaring plot hole in the remainder of the movie.
Pro: Motivation (+4pts)
Like any movie, this movie would be received better if the audience was invested in the story. For this film, a lot of that depended on how believable the main character's motivations were for robbing the bank. I thought the filmmakers of Going in Style did a good job of giving each character the development to explain why they were each going through with this. Each character had their own reasoning and I totally understood where each character was coming from. Each played off the fact that they had nothing to lose, but each had different ideas of what they had to gain. One of my concerns before watching this movie was that the filmmakers would not explain how three good people would be tempted to do something like this so late in their lives, but I thought the filmmakers did a really good job at setting this up effectively.
Con: Dumb Cops (-4pts)
I know that this was a silly comedy about three old men who robbed a bank, but I had trouble getting past how dumb the cops were. It seemed like "dumb cops" were the answer whenever the writers had trouble getting out of a corner they had written themselves into. This made the movie less effective than it could have been, because I think this movie would have been a lot funnier if these three men pulled off this crazy heist with an effective police force on their tail. Instead this movie made the whole thing seem way too easy for them, and our main characters still ran into trouble anyway. This made the main characters look weak, and made the antagonists look dumb, which I think was the wrong way to go with this story, as it took a lot of the steam out of this movie's premise.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
All in all, this was not a bad movie, but it had its issues. For the most part, I found it to be an amusing story filled with a talented cast who had a fun dynamic to watch. There were plenty of chuckles, but there were no real laugh-out-loud moments. I thought Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin had great chemistry that worked very well for this movie. I also think that the characters' motivations for doing this were completely understandable and justified. However, this movie fell apart with the poorly written "plan" and the conveniently dumb police force. Going in Style unfortunately had just about as much working against it as it did working for it, which resulted in a fairly average movie.