Stand Up Guys
starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin
written by Noah Haidle
directed by Fisher Stevens
This is a crime comedy called “Midnight Guys” in Japan because almost all the action takes place in a single night, all night. Maybe the idea of a “stand up” guy doesn’t translate well into Japanese. In fact, I don’t think I even understand it in English.
Released from prison after serving 28 years, Val (Al Pacino) reunites with his old friend and partner Doc (Christopher Walken). Doc has been ordered by crime boss Claphands to kill Val as soon as he gets out as vengeance for the death of Claphands’ son many years before. But before any of that, what does a man do after being in prison for twenty-eight years? Val and Doc go out on the town. Even though they’re old guys now - and the film is pregnant with old age jokes - they remain unrehabilitated thieves. So the old geezers get into all kinds of mischief in the dark hours: brothels, bars, robbing pharmacies, etc. They rescue their old getaway driver, Hirsch (Alan Arkin) from his retirement home and then add car theft to their night time escapades.
Doc can’t bring himself to kill his old friend and partner. He struggles with it all night long and comes close a couple of times. But in the final scene the two gutsy old guys stroll down to Claphands' headquarters in the early daylight, draw their pistols and open fire. I thought it was going to be a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid kind of final scene, where the two get massacred in a hail of bullets like Robert Redford and Paul Newman. But instead we have a great gunfight in the street. Then the camera pans out into a beautiful sunrise/sunset panorama of the New York skyline. The End.
I was totally unsatisfied with that kind of ending. The whole film was a bit boring, really.