Stand Up Guys
Trio of old-timers Pacino, Walken and Arkin, united in predictable yet humorous gangster drama
While Robert De Niro has been vigorously debasing his art and reputation as a Viagra-popping oldster in The Big Wedding, his Godfather II co-star Al Pacino has been alternating cinematic dreck (Righteous Kill, 88 Minutes) with more interesting TV work (notably as Phil Spector and also as killer Jack Kevorkian in You Don’t Know Jack). Presumably Pacino wanted to upstage De Niro’s limp output; Stand Up Guys immediately lives up to the crude double entendre of the title by having Pacino take an overdose of Viagra in the first ten minutes.
The set-up is as grizzled as the cast. Val (Pacino) is an ex-con who is released into the dubious hands of his old friend Doc (Christopher Walken). After refreshing himself with excursions into drugs and prostitution, Val and Doc enlist their old getaway driver Hirsch (Alan Arkin) for one last job, but the complication is that Doc has already agreed a hit on behalf of local crime-boss Claphands (Mark Margolis), and the burden that Doc carries is that Val is to be his victim.
The obvious plot-hole aside (why would any crime boss wait 28 years to avenge his son’s death when Val’s murder could easily be arranged inside the jail?), director Fisher Stevens is less concerned with trying to build up tension than staging knockabout badinage between the three stars, all of whom throw themselves into the task with gusto. Even if the dialogue is sub-David Mamet, and the plotting wearingly predicable, there’s some enjoyment from hearing the old-stagers run through a gamut of non-PC insults.
Weak in comparison with Walken’s far more accomplished turn in Martin McDonagh’s considerably smarter Seven Psychopaths, Stand Up Guys is very much an old man’s film, but Stevens just about delivers the performances that its ageing audience demands.
Limited release from Fri 28 Jun.