Stand Up Guys is the first time legendary actors Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, recipient of one of the 2013 Academy Award nominations, have worked together. Is the film itself worth the wait to finally see that talented trio together? Our Stand Up Guys review says, "Undoubtedly yes!"
The brilliance that is teased in the Stand Up Guys trailer actually comes to fruition with the full film. This is a compelling and surprisingly moving tale about three aging gangsters who keenly know they are on the last pages of their life story. As the film commences, Pacino is getting out of jail and Walken stands next to his old -- but classic -- car waiting to drive him away from lockup.
After some oats are sowed, the reality of this situation becomes painfully clear. There was a job, that Pacino went to jail for, that didn't quite go as planned. The head crook does not believe that Pacino's Val kept his mouth shut while in the can, even though he never turned in his partners, much less the boss. So, since Walken's Doc is as much a part of this failed gig, he has been charged with doing the unthinkable, or he will also suffer Pacino's fate.
Arkin comes into the picture when the guys decide to reunite with him and bust him out of the old age home where he is slowly dying of cancer. On the outside, he appears healthy... so when his boys arrive, Arkin's Hirsch is more than ready to party. The chemistry between Pacino and Walken is palpable, but it is when Arkin joins the duo that it becomes a trio of triumph.
The three actors put on a clinic -- all while winking at the audience because they know these are characters that we've seen prior. Each one has played criminals before, but not quite like Hirsch, Val and Doc.
For some reason it seems as if seeing Pacino, Walken and Arkin together as gangsters would be a no brainer. Perhaps the many years it took to cast these three together is because fate wanted their first union to be with Noah Haidle's script. His story of redemption, vengeance, forgiveness and brotherly love -- all under the paint strokes of a crime thriller -- resonates powerfully with these three actors at this point in their lives and careers. Honestly, they had us when the Stand Up Guys poster premiered!
The direction of Fisher Stevens is not quite up to the presence his actors give in every frame. This is one of his first efforts, and he is having some growing pains as he expands beyond his acting career. It's just that the pacing is off at times. But, we do have to say, the way Stevens builds up the finale as a blazing guns cry for freedom, is as sizzling of a movie conclusion as one could ask.