I’m betting that many people in the audience for this average sequel will remember the original 1979 film “Going in Style.”
Although they bear the same framework about three older men who decide to pull off a crime, they have a different tone. The original movie stars the incredible Lee Strasberg, Art Carney and George Burns.
This one stars the Academy-Award-winning team of Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman. The reboot is a happier, more upbeat approach to the tale, but it’s also a by-the-numbers example of storytelling that the presence of its stellar cast brings past the just-OK level. (The original is a sometimes-disturbing look at old age and living for the moment, and has more depth.)
In the first movie, the men decided to rob a bank, essentially, because they are bored. Such is not the case here. Joe (Caine), Albert (Arkin) and Willie (Freeman) have worked for years at a steel factory. Now the factory is being bought out, and the three – along with other workers – watch their pensions vanish into thin air.
Joe is on hand during a bank robbery one day, and then he has an idea: Maybe the three friends can pull just one heist that will help them live well into their golden years. One faces health problems, another is trying to take care of his family and all three are struggling.
“These banks practically destroyed this country,” Joe says in dialogue that will touch the hearts of anyone of a certain age: “They crushed a lot of people's dreams, and nothing ever happened to them. We three old guys, we hit a bank. We get away with it, we retire in dignity. Worst comes to the worst, we get caught, we get a bed, three meals a day, and better health care than we got now.”
Because they are not natural-born criminals, they realize that they need to do a practice run. This mission is doomed from the start, with cameras catching their every move in the supermarket where the practice takes place. They even enlist the help of a professional criminal when they realize they can’t make it on their own.
This trio of leads is wonderful, not surprisingly, with an easy rapport among themselves, and they’re the saving grace of this average screenplay. You’ll also see Christopher Lloyd in a thankless role as a man who apparently has some sort of dementia, and Ann-Margaret as the love interest of one of the three “crooks.”
Very little will surprise you in what essentially is a TV movie in designer clothing. But you may want to join the heist because of the lovable leads.