Director Zach Braff’s latest comedy “Going in Style” might feel like a lighthearted caper on the surface, but there are some pretty real issues at its heart. Its three main characters are all men in retirement age who have been left without a pension fund due to a restructuring to their previous company. Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Al (Alan Arkin) decide to step out of retirement and risk what lives they have left by plotting a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.
The film starts off a little meek, with a bank heist that feels soft and with some forced humour. Fortunately Caine’s Joe is there to ferry us through a scene that is there out of necessity rather than for great cinema.
It doesn’t really start to make any impression until the three legends are on screen together. These are actors that have shown countless times throughout their respective careers that they can handle a rich gamut of acting styles and there is a sense of playfulness amongst them. Seeing Alan Arkin’s ridiculous run replayed on CCTV had this viewer, and the rest of the screen room, in fits of laughter.
If the film feels sharp, it is partly due to an intelligent screenplay from Theodore Melfi. He has shone a light on members of the older generation previously in his debut screenplay for St. Vincent, in which Bill Murray is forced to come out of a figurative retirement from life (he is spiralling in alcoholism and gambling addiction) to refocus on looking after a young neighbour. This was achieved with a deft touch that allowed the humour to eminate from an otherwise dark script, which itself was adapted from the screenplay of a film of the same name directed by Martin Breft in 1979.
This is not the film that any of the stars will be remembered for, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film.
The plot left me feeling angry about the way older people are treated by society. So, whilst the jokes and humour are forthcoming, there is always a sense that the film has a lot more bubbling under. It’s credit to Zach Braff that he got the balance just right.