Going In Style Review

You can't really hate Going In Style. Mostly because it boasts the leading trio of Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin, each of whom excel on their own, but together manage to create the cinematic equivalent of a big hug and warm cup of cocoa just before bed time.

In Going In Style, which is a remake of the 1979 film of the same name that starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, Caine, Freeman, and Arkin play three friends that have worked together for over 30 years. The trio suddenly find themselves bankrupt, though, after their pensions are absolved following the restructuring of their company. Rather than accepting his fate, and inspired after being caught in a bank robbery a few weeks earlier, Michael Caine's Joe encourages Willie (Freeman), and Albert (Arkin) to help him steal their pensions back from the bank that is holding their pension funds, and they soon set out to hatch their fiendish but morally right crusade.

In order to buy into Going In Style you have to forgive a lot of its cinematic discrepancies. There are one or two comedic set pieces that just don't work at all, especially when the trio try to perform a practice robbery inside a supermarket, a scene that's dated, incoherent, and feels as though it has been slapped together by drunken amateurs rather than a professional film crew. More than that, there are numerous holes in the actual bank-robbery, too, which they're initially able to conduct and drive away from even though they encounter several problems that should have given the police enough time to arrive to the scene. I would have been more than willing to hold my disbelief during this sequence, if not for the fact that the film had meticulously gone out of its way to insist they needed to get in and out in a certain time, had pointed out just how quick the police would react, and simply allowed it to just drag on for far too long.

Not enjoying Going In Style for the above reasons is like not enjoying an ice cream because the cone was a little stale, though. It's the leading trifecta of acting legends that make it a thoroughly pleasant experience. Sure, Going In Style doesn't do anything remarkable, but Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman are so wonderful together that it'll nevertheless still leave you beaming. There's one sequence in particular, where they are all watching The Bachelor together, that will immediately make you want to crawl through the screen and sit alongside them. Throughout, they're each able to bounce off each other and create a genuine camaraderie and spirit, while remaining self-deprecating, forthright, and well aware of their characters' limitations.

Admittedly, the plot is hokey and you only ever produce a blithesome grin rather than eruptions of laughter, but the script from Theodore Melfi (St Vincent, Hidden Figures) and direction from Zach Braff (yes, that Zach Braff) allows Going In Style to move in a sprightly and jovial enough fashion, while the additional contributions from Joey King, Matt Dillon, Ann-Margaret, Christopher Lloyd, Kenan Thompson, John Ortiz, and Peter Serafinowicz keeps the film buoyant just above mundane mediocrity.

Even its preposterously and sickly sweet happy ending can't truly detract, and in fact underlines that Going In Style's main ambition was to warm hearts rather than enthral minds, something that it's able to achieve, even though it trips up over itself along the way.

Gregory Wakeman