Who would have thought that bagging a couple iconic names to star in a gangster movie alongside one another is not going to work…? It turns out the only reason an abomination like “Stand Up Guys” is allowed to exist, is to prove just that. Under sloppy direction by pretty much a random dude (Fisher Stevens), the film brings together for the first time in history a highly respected trio of fantastic actors: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin (who doesn’t get much of a role), plus Mark Margolis as the villain who supplements the geriatric trio, and you would think that the film should be good. Well, it’s not. It’s just the opposite, to be exact.
“Stand Up Guys” is a story about Val (Pacino) whom we meet when he’s leaving prison and is greeted by his old friend Doc (Walken), who offers Val shelter and everything he needs to readjust to normality after nearly three decades behind bars. What Val doesn’t know, is that Doc’s intentions are not exactly clear, as he is being blackmailed by their former (mob) boss Claphands (Margolis) and forced to murder Val in revenge for killing Claphands’ son 30 years ago.
Honestly, there’s nothing that could save “Stand Up Guys” here. The film is awful through and through. The story is ridiculous and apart from being just generally implausible, the way the plot proceeds from A to B to C lacks logic in a way that makes “Iron Man 3” look intellectual. The story doesn’t flow naturally, as a result, which makes every turn look forced. Moreover, Doc’s moral dilemma – supposed tent-pole to the whole story – plays out artificially and the whole thing feels like there was nothing at stake at all. Having the story be stuffed with banalities and clichés all throughout doesn’t help either, and any doubt as to how the story would unfold and where it’s going is swept away very quickly.
And the acting… I thought I’d never say anything of the sort about a film starring Pacino and Walken, but their performances were horrid, forced, blundering, sloppy, bogus and downright crap. Does the age turn a film icon into a caricature? Or is it the abhorrent direction by a random schmuck that’s responsible for what I have just witnessed? Either way, Pacino and Walken don’t even break a sweat with their acting, which is confined to them doing impressions of themselves. And not even good ones – I think I can find people on Youtube that do a better ‘Christopher Walken’ than Walken himself. They all just walk around, read lines with no emotion, thought, or melody, but it does fit rather well into the story that lacks exactly the same qualities.
In summary, “Stand Up Guys” is just 90 minute-long story (or rather an incoherent, illogical, and annoying collection of scenes) about grumpy old men talking nonsense to one another, shooting guns and pretending to act. Shame! At least it wasn’t too long…