Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Film Review: Stand Up Guys (2012)

Director: Fisher Stevens
Writer: Noah Haidle
Stars: Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken

To borrow a clich├ęd phrase, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin are not ‘getting any younger’ and the roles just aren’t there for them anymore as leading men. They will turn up in supporting roles (notably Arkin’s been nominated at this year’s Oscars) and they will always be watchable, even if some of the material is dross they wouldn’t have dreamt of making 30 or 40 years ago; Jack and Jill, The Change Up, and Seven Psychopaths all spring to mind as recent misdemeanours each actor is guilty of.

With an Academy Award each to their name, the reality is these three guys are living legends and although they deserve a better script than Stand Up Guys to unite them, they could have signed on to make a lot worse and the end result is an enjoyable if forgettable crime comedy. The concept is actually very interesting for characters of their age; Walken is tasked with killing his lifelong friend and partner in crime (Pacino) on the day he is released from a 28 year stretch in prison. The nice touch to the story is that the men openly discuss the predicament they face, but neither run away from their past; in their lives, what’s done is done and what’s to come isn’t worth worrying about at this stage in life.

The script isn’t particularly cinematic and plays out more like a made-for TV film than one destined for the cinema; perhaps it would have been if it weren’t for the three leads. It never quite strikes the right balance of comedic and dramatic to make it seem much more than a series of scenes strung together to reach 90 minutes, although they are fun to watch and do deliver some genuine laughs. Moreover, the film was shot on Red Camera, and the quality also adds to the made-for-TV quality, highlighting the shortcomings of digital without the budget.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: Stand Up Guys won’t make an impact at the cinema but makes for perfect DVD viewing and is a nice reminder that the three leads still have what it takes when they put their talents to good use.

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