February 8, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 40°F


Review: Crime film flops with purposeless action

There are two kinds of bad movies: those that are bad but are still enjoyable, and those that are just plain bad. “Stand Up Guys” falls under the latter. The first line of the film, “You look like shit,” is a somewhat fitting and foretelling line for the rest of the movie. Despite the presence of Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, “Stand Up Guys” fails to be the entertaining experience it could have been.

“Stand Up Guys” stars Pacino, Walken and Arkin as aged criminals who have long since given up their criminal ways. Valentine, played by Pacino, is a freshly released criminal who has a day to live a free life before his only friend and ex-criminal buddy, Doc, played by Walken, is forced to make the choice to end his life.

“Stand Up Guys” is a movie that can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. Perhaps the best description of the movie is a crime dramedy, a mix of the crime, drama and comedy genres. The movie tries to keep its three genres but spreads itself thin in doing so. Within the crime genre, the characters’ actual felonies are referenced but never shown. While gun-shooting segments are seldom used and theatrical, they often seem purposeless or added just for the sake of including action. On the comedy side, the film’s lackluster dialogue forces humor into situations, such as Pacino struggling with erectile dysfunction disorder. As a drama, the film fails as well. Many scenes feature an attempted-iconic tone with dramatic shots accompanying ’70s music. Any scene that has dramatic potential is almost immediately broken up with either unfitting crime scenes or forced comedy.

The worst part of “Stand Up Guys” is the script. Any bit of wit the film may have had is immediately broken as Walken declares it is time to “Kick ass and chew bubblegum,” and that he is “All outta bubblegum.” When the film isn’t struggling with overcoming clichés, it frequents colorless humor and foreseeable, generic conflict. With the exception of Pacino, there is no notable acting present in the film, and even Pacino’s performance is unable to change a bad script. Walken’s emotionally void performance and strange line delivery hinders the films plausibility, while Arkin’s short role in the film seems largely unnecessary to the overall story. Ultimately, “Stand Up Guys” is held back from its potential because of its inability to stick to a theme, its poor script and its mostly bland cast.

1.5 stars

Star-studded cast fails to carry cliched plot and slow script.