CRIMEWATCH: Stand Up Guys
Stand Up Guys (2012) was one of those movies that I was really excited to see when I first heard about it, but then I kind of forgot about it. So did most people I guess, because it didn’t do too well. The movie was pushed back from it’s opening date due to unfortunate current events (they really have nothing to do with the movie, but I digress). Stand Up Guys eventually ended up settling for a limited release which is why I wasn’t able to see it until now. I didn’t hear a whole lot about the movie and what little I did hear wasn’t very positive. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with it. It has the feel of a throwback to old gangster films. I like to imagine these characters as the subject of a 70’s gangster film, perhaps called “A Fistful of Teeth”, then those characters grew old and Stand Up Guys comes along as a way to check up on them.
The basic story is that Al Pacino is released from prison and is picked up by his old pal Christopher Walken, who is sent to kill him by another gangster. What follows is not an action film by any means, but a well acted, dramatic character driven piece which works to study the relationship of it’s two leads.
Christopher Walken and Al Pacino are two of my favorite actors and they are very talented. Christopher Walken’s strange demeanor and pattern of speech often overshadow the fact that he is actually a very good actor. It takes a while for the relationship to develop between them, but once they get in the swing of things it’s a lot of fun to watch. The film claims to also star Alan Arkin and while he does a good job while he’s onscreen, he isn’t in it very long. Other actors of note in the movie are Mark Margolis (AKA Tio Salamanca AKA The Bell Guy from Breaking Bad) playing the head gangster, Vanessa Ferlito (AKA Butterfly from Death Proof), and a real stand up guy found in stand up comedian Bill Burr who plays a small time gangster.
Stand Up Guys is pretty funny and has lots of quippy dialogue based comedy akin to a Tarantino film, except it’s obviously not written as well and is rather hit or miss. The premise is fairly interesting, the script has some minor problems and feels like it might have been better suited to a different director but the actors manage to hold it all together. Al Pacino and Christopher Walken bring these guys to life and their characters’ longtime friendship is the heart of the film.
Don’t mistake this for an action movie aside from a couple brief moments and a pretty awesome but somewhat unfulfilling slo-mo shootout. Stand Up Guys is strictly a character driven film but it’s a pretty good one.