Oh God, the disappointment.
Old Jack had cleared the common room of young folk and the talkers. Senile George could still be heard in his room, barking and demanding a hot water bottle, but I was free to bask in hours of Michael Caine based goodness. And Morgan Freeman! And Alan Arkin! All in a complete piss that an evil bank/ex-employer combo was stealing their pensions…and the buddies were out for revenge. To the penny.
This promised so much: meaningful characters to gentlemen approaching or ever-so-slightly into retirement; bank heist jolllies; loud, physical laughs as men of dignity and achievement did crazy things. Ann-Margret (she still got it, grandpa).
I watched this for its entire five hours and nary raised a titter. Okay, 96 minutes.
The buddies – Joe (Caine, playing Michael Caine), Willie (Freeman in a not-dissimilar characterisation to Last Vegas) and Albert (Arkin, snarking and bumping Ann-Margrets like he has a healthy heart) – make great grumps, but the script lets them down so badly you end up remembering the films where they thrilled. Whole chunks of Harry Brown, Shawshank and, um….Catch-22 came to mind as they plodded through the obvious and illogical stuff on display here.
It all goes wrong in a test-heist of a supermarket. Ending with the rather lovely image of Freeman in Caine’s motorised basket, the sequence is ill-timed and strange when it could have been madcap and hilarious. Tins are knocked asunder, whole meals are shoved up shirts, they are forgiven and gifted coupons. Really – old Jack just sort of stared.
And then the it properly flatlines…
They get to the real heist and Freeman’s Willie parks his brains in an emotionally draining bucket by the door. He dives so solidly into the stupid zone that he practically hands his identity to the CCTV cameras and a child who is charmed by a horrifying stranger in a mask and gun…oh…let’s quote Kenneth Williams here: after weeks of excruciating arse pain he possibly killed himself and wrote the final, awful, words in his diary, “what’s the bloody point?”
This is a let-down.
Only bother if it’s for free, you’re slightly drunk or doing something else.