Up until a few months ago, I wouldn’t have recognized your name in the closing credits of the geriatric caper film Going _in Style. Sure, you’ve been in the movie biz for a while now, bankrolling films like X-Men Last Stand, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Lego Batman (which you shouldn’t talk about anymore) through your production company, RatPac-Dune Entertainment. But now you’ve got an even higher profile gig, as Treasury Secretary of the United States, under President Donald J. Trump. So when I saw your name attached to a film about three senior friends who have lost their pensions, one of whom is about to have his home foreclosed upon, it became glaringly obvious who I should blame this mess on.
And you do have a lot to answer for.
In your past life, after leaving your job at Goldman Sachs, you were a successful hedge-fund manager –maybe a little too successful. You bought some of the lenders that went tits-up during the 2008 recession and started aggressively foreclosing on homeowners, earning the nickname, The Foreclosure King. You specialized in something called “widow foreclosures”, a practice which is as despicable as it sounds. You even foreclosed on a woman over a twenty-seven cent discrepancy. That said, I kinda don’t feel too bad ripping on your latest cinematic venture and hoping that it bombs at the box-office because the last thing you need is to make more money off the backs of the elderly.
But Going in Style probably won’t bomb too badly, and not just because people like you tend to get rewarded for mediocrity, but because of the charm of its three leads – Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin – a trio of men I would have paid to watch beat you up in an alley when they were in their fighting prime. Unfortunately, their collective star-power, however faded, isn’t enough to save this treacly, pedestrian, heist comedy.
The movie opens on Michael Caine. I don’t remember any of the character’s names, because they’re so one-dimensional they never transcend the stars that play them. You know what I mean, eh Steve? People are all just numbers, right? Caine is told by a smarmy banker that, due to a sneaky loophole, his mortgage payments have gone up astronomically and he will lose his home if he can’t make the payments. Sound familiar Steve? Just then, the bank is held up by a team of robbers, one of whom bursts in on Caine and the banker. Caine shows him his foreclosure notice and offers the robber what little money he has in his wallet to which the robber says, “it is the duty of a culture to look after its elders”. Did you miss that part in the script, Steve? Doesn’t sound like the kind of sentiment you’d espouse.
Michael Caine and his best friends, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin, plot to rob the bank, and what follows are the kind of boiler-plate hi-jinx and unimaginative plot twists we’ve seen a thousand times before, but this time they’re more condescending because they involve a bunch of old people. We’re supposed to find it hilarious that these three aged Oscar-winners sit around eating on TV-trays ripping on The Bachelorette. Co-star Christopher Lloyd pops in and out, playing a version of Jim, his drug-addled Taxi character, who makes random comments and gets confused easily because he clearly has dementia. So funny. Poor Ann Margaret is a sex-pot grocery store clerk with the hots for Alan Arkin who doesn’t get to do much but purr and fondle produce. Lolz. Senior citizens are so easy to make fun of, right Steve? It’s almost like they’re asking to be taken advantage of.
Still, Going in Style has a few bright spots and genuine laughs, namely when the three buddies practice robbing a grocery store, and the montage sequence when they plan the bank robbery. It’s entertaining watching old men trying to learn to do a job they are in no way qualified for. Unless you follow CNN or the New York Times. Then it’s just terrifying and sad.
Going in Style isn’t offensively bad. It’s just a lame waste of time. It is the type of film that kinda makes me feel bad for everyone involved. Except for you, Steve. You can burn in hell.