Stand Up Guys

Simply stated, don’t pass up the extraordinary pleasure of seeing Al Pacino and Christopher Walken embrace their roles as gentlemen walking into the sunset. Which is a reminder to hunt down Mr. Walken in last year’s 7 Psychopaths.

Rating: Can be seen on any screen, and it will remind you to call a distant friend when it ends.

Stand Up GuysStand Up Guys is a modern-day version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Just as Butch and Sundance were delightfully nice guys who robbed banks and patronized houses of prostitution, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken live almost identical lives.

Pacino plays Val, a small-time career criminal who is being released after doing 28 years in prison. He has but one remaining friend, Doc (Christopher Walken), who is waiting to pick him up as he leaves confinement.

There is only one fundamental problem, and that is the unfortunate fact that Pacino has a price on his head. His awaited execution poses a bit of a problem, as the man assigned to kill him is none other than Walken. The movie spans less than 24 hours, and covers the boys renewing old friendships with the knowledge that Pacino must meet his maker by 10 a.m. the next morning.

In the process, it becomes apparent that the lads have never done an honest day’s work in their lives. Proving that old habits die hard, they burglarize a pharmacy to steal some drugs while attacking a South Korean cashier at a mini-mart to steal his clothes. While you need to see the film to discover the reason, it becomes readily apparent that our boys have never felt the slightest bit of guilt about their conduct.

As they gradually renew their mutual warmth, Walken continually attempts to squeeze out of performing his dirty deed. In the process, they take the time to rescue an old buddy played by Alan Arkin from a retirement home. Arkin was always their driver during their past crimes, and they steal a car that results in some memorable moments.

Stand Up Guys is more of an intellectual exercise than a stimulating adventure. It was the edgy script by Noah Haidle that drives the film, not the action. In a sense, it reminded me of the relationships that dominated Brad Pitts’ most recent film, Killing Them Softly.

In the end, you know that our boys have to decide how they are going to meet their maker. Old friends are nearing the end of their road here on Earth, and you can’t help but enjoy their exchanges as they are reminded of a common bond that spans decades.

In that sense, Stand Up Guys captures the strength of Butch and Sundance. While the movie does not end in a fatal shootout in South America, you once again see painfully flawed human beings remembering the meaning of friendship with their guns blazing.