Saturday, January 26, 2013

Al Pacino and Christopher Walken are old pros

Review by James Colt Harrison

Rarely has a gangster movie been made in which the main characters are loveable and funny. Both Christopher Walken and Al Pacino project, charm,warmth, and likeability, even though they are both killers. Stand Up Guys, directed by Fisher Stevens, takes an amusing look at two old friends who meet once again after being separated by many years.

Back in the Golden Age of movies in the 1930s, gangster films were all the rage. Jimmy Cagney and Edward G. Robinson ruled at Warner Bros studios with their underground characters. Cagney and Robinson had their own styles that were not alike, but both men were so charismatic and wildly popular that gangland criminals were idolized. Cagney was the feisty Irish tough guy from New York’s Hell’s Kitchen area, whereas Robinson personified the more dapper, but dangerous ethnic type (be it Italian or Jewish). He could play it with relish and a copyrighted snarl. These men were gigantic stars and set the rules for all future actors who play baddies.

Walken and Pacino are their own men, of course, but both can play drama as well as comedy. Being such marvelous old pros, these two actors play off each other as though they had been acting together for years. In this film, they play best friends who grew up in crime since they were kids. Their affection for each other shows, but is not blatant or overdone.

Pacino's character Val apparently took the fall for a deal that went wrong that both had been involved in as young men. He spent 28 yrs in jail. When he gets out, he finds his old pal waiting for him. These two con men want to re-activate the old gang to relive the great old days. There’s one problem. Walken (Doc) has been pressured by mob leader Claphands (played with intensity by Mark Margolis) to bump off his old pal Val. It becomes a dilemma for Doc even though Val knew it was probably coming.

Alan Arkin (Hirsch) gives another of his great supporting performances as their old car driver during their youthful escapades. Now confined to an assisted living home, Hirsch dreams of their shenanigans from years gone by and wants to recreate those thrills. Their scenes together are extremely funny, exciting, and exhilarating as they go about the city trying to right some wrongs.

The film is fun, thrilling, and on its way to becoming a classic because of its brilliant casting. Pacino and Walken make a fine team and could be seen in a sequel if this film does well at the box office. They have created two memorable characters who are bad boys; but who doesn’t love bad boys?  Lakeshore Entertainment/ Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.



CL said...

Haven't seen it yet but it looks good.

Unknown said...

thanks for the review.

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