“Stand Up Guys” Review: Just Shoot Him Already

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“Stand Up Guys” Review: Just Shoot Him Already

By Wesley Emblidge

Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino in “Stand Up Guys”

It’s really sad to see the careers of those whom you really respect deteriorate so far that you lose every ounce of respect you once had for them. It happens to the best, everyone from actors to directors, probably even costume designers if I paid attention to them. Some people like Steven Spielberg or Michael Caine keep going strong, but there are those like John Carpenter and virtually every child actor whose careers just flail until they die. “Stand Up Guys” is the ultimate representation of this trend. I love Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, all of whom have had very long and respected careers, but lately they haven’t been the greatest. This is most true for Pacino, who has gone from being in the “Godfather” movies, to starring in what was considered probably the worst film of last year, “Jack and Jill.”

But with “Stand Up Guys,” it seems like Pacino and his co-stars had a shot at decency. Arkin and Walken actually had very good 2012’s but Pacino needed this badly. Unfortunately, the film is nothing close to a savior. What could be pitched as a sort of Oscar-baity (it had a limited release in December to qualify for the academy awards this year, to no avail) hitman drama ends up being a messy waste of potential that isn’t even very well-acted.

Val (Pacino) has just been released from a long prison sentence, and is met outside the gates by his old gangster friend Doc (Walken) who has been assigned to kill him by their boss. He has until the next morning to do the deed, so Val and Doc spend the night as one final hurrah before Val’s inevitable death.

The plot above could make a good film, but strangely this isn’t just a boring, melodramatic film. It’s full of strange side tangents and really crude, poor attempts to be humorous. The number of boner jokes Pacino makes alone is disarming (“I could cut diamonds with this thing!”).

As a result the film is a complete tonal mess, it might be trying to be very dark and serious one moment, and the next it seems like Pacino thinks he’s still filming “Jack and Jill.” Arkin is practically asleep for his scenes, at best just being himself. Walken seems to be the only one doing anything good here, but isn’t given much to work with anyway.

There was a lot of potential for “Stand Up Guys,” but in the end it never seems to know what it wants to be. It’s not exactly unpleasant to sit through, but it certainly gets boring. All of these actors have seen much better days, but I suppose they’ve seen much worse too.

The tagline for “Stand Up Guys” reads “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Which happens to be a perfect summation of the film, just probably not in the way the marketing team intended.


2/5 Stars