SYNOPSIS: A pair of aging con men try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah before one of the guys takes on his last assignment -- to kill his friend.
REVIEW: Writer/Actor/Director Fisher Stevens, moves back to the director's chair for a piece of fiction that is a little different than the documentaries and documentary shorts he is more known for. Stevens is joined by another member of the team who is moving from shorts to a full feature. Noah Haidle writes his first full-length feature, both attracting A-list talent with the likes of Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths), Al Pacino (Righteous Kill), and Alan Arkin (Argo).
Doc (Christopher Walken) loves to spend his time painting sunrises, then spending time at a diner talking to the waitress Alex (Addison Timlin, Californication). Today he changes his routine in order to pick up newly released convict Valentine (Al Pacino) - known as Val to hi friends - who he ran with doing mob jobs when they were younger. Now twenty-eight years later, Val and Doc are together again. The only problem is that Doc was given the contract to kill Val for killing the mob boss Claphands' (Mark Margolis, Immortals) son during a botched robbery which landed Val in prison in the first place.
Knowing that his friend has been given a contract, Val decides to make it one hell of a night before Doc needs to "deliver the package" at 10am the next morning. Along the way they visits whorehouse, do lines of prescription drugs, have a few beers, and break out their old friend Hirsch (Alan Arkin) out from a adult living facility. As a night burns away the trio reminisce about old times and how this might be the end of the line.
Touted as an ex-con bucket list, Stand Up Guys is a sentimental look at regrets, aging, and things left undone and unsaid. Can Val cram all his last wishes into one night? Doc and Hirsch try their best to try to make it happen. Not only is Stand Up Guys about getting old and thinking about the younger years, but it's also about how the world is changed - And not necessarily for the better.
Director Fisher Stevens does a great job with the symbology in this film. A brand-new sports car represents how everything has changed around the old retired mobsters. Keyless ignition, horsepower, and all the gauges on the dashboard represents a new modern technological era that the retired mobsters just don't fit into anymore. Walken, Pacino, and Arkin prove to the younger thugs that sometimes the old ways are the best ways - even if the older generation may have lost a step or two.
Walken, Pacino, and Arkin give performances that you've come to expect and love from these actors. Walken, with his distinctive voice, cadence and mannerisms, shows that Doc is a happier man now that he's retired. Pacino brings back his typical devil-may-care attitude, just looking to fulfill his last night with food, booze, drugs, and women before the clock strikes 10 AM. Arkin is his typical gruff and quiet self who also wanted to fulfill one last wish since he was broken out of the nursing home.
The trio is supported by Timlin's Alex, and victim Sylvia (Vanessa Ferlito, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) whose found in a compromising position. Add in Hirsch's daughter Nina, played by Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) who slips comfortably into the familiar role of an ER nurse, and a Madam named Wendy (Lucy Punch, Bad Teacher) and her employee Oxana (Katheryn Winnick,Love and Other Drugs) and you have several avenues that the old timers can explore to serious or comic effect.
Stand Up Guys is a tight dramatic comedy about old-timer mobsters who make realizations about their mortality, regrets, and how the old ways are still the best ways. Walken, Pacino, and Arkin make the film their own, letting us indulge in their practiced arts of being wise guys. It's time to either kick ass or chew bubble gum... and I'm all out of bubble gum!
★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5 | DVD or Rental
Rated: R Sexual content, language, brief drug use and violence.
Release Date: February 1, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes
Director: Fisher Stevens
Writer: Noah Haidle
Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Juliana Marguiles, Mark Margolis, Lucy Punch, Addison Timlin, Vanessa Ferlito, Katheryn Winnick, Bill Burr