Sometimes film fans throw around phrases like “I would watch Morgan Freeman read a phone book” or “they should make a film with Clint Eastwood, Hugh Jackman and Scott Eastwood as a family of hitmen.” They’re big dreams you imagine being ridiculously fun that Hollywood just aren’t taking advantage of. Going in Style, conversely, feels exactly like one of those wishes come true. “What if we got Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin together to make jokes and rob banks?” For both good and bad, that is precisely what Going in Style relies on.
Freeman, Caine and Arkin play friends who worked together for a number of years in a factory, only to have recently been notified that their promised pension is being cut off because the company is moving all work overseas which, among other things, legally absolves them of all payments. All three have their personal reasons to be hugely dependent on this regular income and are at a loss, until one of them proposes that they rob a bank.
What transpires next is full of the hijinks you’d expect from these three, and is a lot of fun. Zach Braff (Garden State, Wish I Was Here) directs, the first big feature that he hasn’t also starred in or written, and does it with the necessary (if expected) flourish of stereotypical heist flicks. Don’t expect Garden State style quirkiness here – Braff’s unique style is essentially nowhere to be seen, either in visuals or comedy. The script from Theodore Melfi (writer and director for Hidden Figures, St. Vincent), based on a film from the 70s, is similarly fun, maybe a little safe, but one that imbues the film with the requisite amount of laughs, suspense and heart.
A good few bit players show up to lend their names to the stunning cast list, with Peter Serafinowicz, Christopher Lloyd, Kenan Thompson, John Ortiz and more absolutely getting their moments to shine. But ultimately everything relies on its core three, and each does well to display a distinct personality and humour that rarely feels melodramatic or overplayed in any way.
The film does attempt to push a slight amount of social commentary, but it’s so brief and overlooked that it really affects nothing outside a few moments of dialogue. The overall film simply remains too light, fun and safe to push any agenda. Whether or not that’s an issue may depend on what you’re expecting from the film. While it would’ve been nice to see it aspire to something a little ‘more’, it’s also undeniably relaxing to just sit back and enjoy something a little lighter.
Going in Style is a simple, fun film that is just a good time at the cinema. Nothing stands out as particularly memorable, but if you like seeing these acting superstars enjoy themselves and want something light and easy, check it out.