When you put together a film with stars like Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin the content should be a no brainer. These legendary actors should be able to piece together any script and make it worth viewing on the big screen. Unfortunately for Stand Up Guys, the writing was too flawed to make this film worth the ticket price.
Stand up Guys follows the life of connected criminal Val played by Al Pacino. Val has just finished a 28 year sentence for a crime he may or may not have committed. Upon his release he is met at the gates by his best friend Doc (Christopher Walken) who is seemingly set to help Val adjust to his new world. The twist is that Doc has been given 24 hours to kill Val. As in any other film of this type the two hit the town to celebrate Val’s release and what is supposed to be inspired drama and comedy ensue.
The premise is workable. It has sort of been done before. It was done really well in reverse in the 2002 film 25th Hour. The problem with Stand Up Guys is that the film is very disjointed. Val has a bucket list, of sorts, and the guys set about checking everything off, but the scenes don’t really mesh well together. The characters show up at a place, complete the task and then move on. From time to time the scenes do connect, but that doesn’t mean they mesh well. At one point they are in a car chase that just ends. It is supposed to establish a crew member’s ability to drive well and evade the cops, but in this day and age with the technology our police force has there is no way they would have escaped.
Stylistically, the film doesn’t know where it lands. Is it an 80’s film or is it more current? The films plays it off like it is current, but some of the characters are dressed from the late 70’s and 80’s and not of today. This is not in reference to Val who just got out of prison, that is to be expected, but the other characters you are supposed to connect with just don’t fit in. Some of the technologies are of a current era but the film is shot ragged and run down, no doubt in an attempt to build the set like it’s protagonist, but it fails to deliver that message. The soundtrack to the film does a good job at redeeming the style and swagger of days gone by, but unfortunately the film can hold up to the movement the music provides. The ending of the film makes no sense. (POSSIBLE SPOILER HERE). In an instant the film changes from a comedy / drama into a John Woo style action piece. The change comes from out of nowhere and should never exist in a film of this stature.
The film makers should have focused more on the characters themselves at the film’s conclusion instead of the high-action flash they settled on. This could have been a very powerful film dealing with friends, family, relationships and justice in a more appropriate way. Sadly, Stand Up Guys just scratches the surface of those topics and fails for it.
I hate to say it, but stay away from this one. Wait until it comes to your premium channels or streaming services.