Movie Review: 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 so the bank is threatening to take his house. When Joe goes into the bank to try to sort this out, he finds himself in the middle of an armed bank 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) who have recently learned that their company is moving overseas and that their pensions won't be coming. 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 so they begin to plan their million dollar heist.
The Trio (+8pts)
The Plan (-6pts)
Alan Arkin (+3pts)
Dumb Cops (-4pts)
Pro - The Trio (+8pts)
Most of the fun from this movie, comes from watching these three characters (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin) interact with eachother. They are coworkers, neighbors and best friends who are all dealing with old age and 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 vs. comedy was balanced well between the three of them. When one or two characters had dramatic moments, the other(s) stayed comedic. I thought this allowed each character to shine in different moments and in different ways which is something I think worked well for the film.
Con - The Plan (-6pts)
A lot of this film's impact with the audience depended on how well the plan was as well as how well it was executed by the characters (leaving some room for comedic error). I thought the plan itself 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 weak and the security at the bank seemed very light (seeing as how it had JUST been robbed days earlier). The getaway also seemed too uncertain. These mixed together made for a bad plan, which would have been fine if Joe, Willie and Albert did not seem overly confident and acting like they outsmarted the cops with their elaborate plan. I know this is a comedy so should not be taken too seriously, but I personally needed a little more realism in this plan. I hope not everyone feels that way.
Pro - Alan Arkin (+3pts)
Alan Arkin was easily the comedic relief of this film. While Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman carried the plot, Alan Arkin hits the audience with the funniest parts of the movie. His comments about hating life, himself and old age hit the audience (or at least 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 that worked really well. I always like seeing Alan Arkin pop up in movies and this one was no different. He was the harsh comedic relief in a movie filled with silliness which is something I think this movie desperately needed.
Con - Blanks (-2pts)
A lot of people will think this is a very minor issue and I think that, on the surface, it is but I think it is a more significant issue when you look more closely. The characters in this movie use blank bullets in their guns. They do so to be intimidating while also ensuring that no one gets hurt. This decision makes sense for the characters so I am okay with it. My problem is with the manner in which the blanks are shot. There is one moment in the film in which the blanks are blatantly shot at a person for comedic effect. It was an amusing, but not an amazing, moment. My problem is with the moments right after. 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 knowing that the guns they had were harmless. This resulted in the "firing blanks" scene to hurt the climax of the film for me.
Pro - Motivation (+4pts)
Like any movie, this movie would be received better if the audience is invested in the story. For this film, a lot of that depends on how believable the main character's motivations are for robbing a bank. I thought Going in Style did a good job of giving each character the necessary time to show why they are going through with this. Each character had their own reasoning and I thought they all made absolute sense. Each played of the fact that they had nothing to lose, but each had different storylines to get them to that mindset. I thought this was done well and I think that the setup for this movie was perfectly executed.
Con - Dumb Cops (-4pts)
I know that this is a silly comedy about three old men who rob 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 passed a plot hole. This made the movie less effective than it could have been because I think this movie would have been received much better if these three men pulled off this crazy heist while the police force was smart and on their tails. Instead this movie made the whole thing seem way too easy for them, and our main characters still run into trouble. This made the main characters look weak, when they should have been portrayed as the opposite.
Rating: C+ (78pts)
All in all, this was not a bad movie but it had a lot of issues. For the most part, I found it to be an amusing story filled with a silly cast. There are plenty of chuckles but 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 character's motivations for doing this were completely understandable and justified. However this movie falls apart, a bit, with the poorly written "plan" and a dumb cop force. Going in Style unfortunately has as much working against it as it does working for it, which resulted in a fairly average movie.
I only recommend seeing this movie if you are bored, so it may be worthwile to wait for this one to hit home video and/or Netflix.