We watch movies because we think it will be entertaining or thought-provoking or challenging. It either should fascinate you or affect you at a profound level. Sometimes, the reason to watch a movie is to observe a particular combination of actors hanging out. That's the only great pleasure to get from "Stand Up Guys" (2012), a film which brings talented trio of veteran actors -- Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. It is a gangland comedy with a class-reunion feel. The spontaneity of all the actors delivers a delight, even though the script imparts us with a sinking feeling.
Valentine or Val (Al Pacino) is just getting released on a parole after 28 years. He has accidentally killed his mob boss' son in a robbery and shootout, even though he has never squealed on his accomplices (a real stand up guy). Doc (Walken) is waiting for his friend, Val at the gate. Doc is a complicated, curt hit man. He paints beautiful pictures, lives in a tiny apartment and dines at the same place, ordering same food from the same waitress. Once Val is out, Doc immediately attends to his needs, which even includes an eventful visit to whore house.
Doc also has a deadline of 24 hours to kill Val (the strict orders from mob boss). Val knows this and often asks how much time he has got. Val's got a short time to live, so in that time they wander the streets by night—stealing a luxury car for a joyride, busting their old wheel man Hirsch (Arkin) out of a nursing home, and getting their drink on. In the end, it becomes a question of how and when Doc will shoot his best friend. Or is Doc, a courageous stand up guy to sacrifice his own life and refuse?
Pacino, most often gives away subtlety and goes for a bombastic performance. Most of the times that ends up being annoying but here he's fun to watch. He might have played this role a lot of times in his career, but it’s still nice to know that getting older has not decreased his appetite for acting. Pacino grinding up Walken's medication and snorting it up like the Tony Montana of Scarface is one of the funniest moment. The graceful Walken as Doc is oddly touching and has surprisingly tender moments. Alan Arkin plays to perfection, the annoyed unhappy man, who realizes that he didn’t quite get what he wanted out of life.
Director Fisher Stevens hasn't done much with actors the caliber of Pacino and Walken. He has just turned on the camera and turned them loose. Funniest moments are also equaled with dumb episodes, which are designed to allow the old men to bond with younger women. Noah Haidle's script is nothing groundbreaking. The script has the usual dishonorable younger thugs, cop chases and mandatory Viagra jokes.
The legendary actors deserved a better material, yet it’s so nice to have them onscreen together. Don't pay much attention to the script or story, just watch these actors, playing longtime friends and in the end, you might care for a seat at the diner table with them.
Stand Up Guys - IMDb