GOING IN STYLE: So help me, I can’t think of any reason to remake the 1979 George Burns-Art Carney-Lee Strasberg gem about three senior citizens who rob a bank to break up the monotony of their lives. The only variation in the new screenplay by Theodore Melfi (HIDDEN FIGURES) is that the geriatric trio (Alan Arkin, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman) here are former co-workers out to heist the financial institution handling the restructuring of their pensions gobbled up by a global corporate merger. Think of it as a New York version of HELL AND HIGH WATER (2016) with old guys as the outlaws. Trite “geezer jokes” abound with just as many falling flat as those that manage to land on their feet. We’re then asked to believe that these oldsters who clumsily and unsuccessfully attempt an exercise in shoplifting at a grocery store are able to pull off a caper a la OCEAN’S ELEVEN (1960), which they salute by donning masks of “Rat Pack” members, in a heavily guarded Gotham bank. The sequence itself lacks real cohesion and is victimized by choppy, mediocre transitional editing. Many of the characters feel stereotyped although there are some supporting characters like Matt Dillon’s (CRASH) FBI agent and a sexpot grocery worker played by Ann-Margret (GRUMPY OLD MEN) who I was glad to see in a movie since I actually thought she was dead. The movie’s conclusion, which I won’t reveal, is totally implausible with no basis in reality. I have a Facebook “friend” who likes to try and sum up one of his arguments with a post saying that “there’s nothing to see here”. That pretty much sums up how I feel about this tepid recycled work which is sorely lacking the genuine unexpected sentiment that made the original version such a surprise hit. Once again, Hollywood has gone with what I call “the tried and true formula” only to go one for two. CRITIC’S GRADE: C
CLOSING CREDITS: Ironically, the original movie version which starred three of Hollywood’s A-list “old-timers” was the directorial debut of 28-year old former N.Y.U. film student Martin Brest who also wrote the screenplay. Brest would later go on to direct BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984), MIDNIGHT RUN (1988), and SCENT OF A WOMAN (1992) which earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Picture. That effort was followed by the overlong and pretentious Brad Pitt film MEET JOE BLACK (1998). Five years later, Brest would unleash the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez disaster GIGLI (2003) on an unsuspecting public who treated it with the indifference it so richly deserved. But in his rookie directing gig, GONE BABY GONE (2007), Affleck (ARGO) acknowledges Brest’s influence on his filmmaking career.