Stand Up Guys (2012)

(On Cable TV, July 2013) Getting old isn’t easy, and that goes for actors as much as for criminals.  Stand Up Guys has the merit of addressing both by featuring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken as a pair of aging gangsters trying to figure out the rest of their lives during one particularly event-worthy night.  Pacino’s character is freshly out of prison, while Walken’s character has orders to kill him before the night is over.  What happens next is a blend of good screenwriting, decent directing and capable veteran actors: Stand Up Guys becomes a breezy way to pass an hour and a half, coupled with a few things to say about aging and how people can break free from their past.  Some of the humor is extremely easy (much of the bordello scenes read like wish-fulfillment for older men) but some of the rest feels on-target as a reflection of older-tired characters that can’t wait for the end to come.  After a slow start, Stand Up Guys improves midway through as Alan Alda joins the proceedings for a few faster minutes.  While the episodic structure of the film can’t patch over a few unfortunate narrative choices (such as the avenging sequence), the ending is strong enough to satisfy in a somewhat-predictable fashion.  Fans of Pacino and Walken will get plenty to like, although Walken’s conflicted arc is more compelling than Pacino outright bombast.  While this isn’t a classic-in-the-making, it’s not a waste of time either, and it joins a small “aging superstar thriller” sub-genre alongside now-franchises such as Red and The Expendables.

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