Pacino. Walken. There was a time that would have been enough. Actually, there have been several times those two names would have made many moviegoers perfectly happy. It’s been a while for Al Pacino, but 2012 was very good to Christopher Walken, who played it low-key in A Late Quartet and was the embodiment of his own cliché in Seven Psychopaths.
So Stand Up Guys should have given them more to work with, because it seems as though both actors really wanted it to be a better outing.
Fresh out of prison after 28 years, Val (Pacino) wants to do those things he couldn’t in the pen: Have sex (with a woman), steal fast cars and crush up prescription drugs and snort them through a drink stirrer. And this guy wound up in prison, you say?
Both Val and his best friend, Doc (Walken), used to work for a crime boss named Claphands — because every other nickname was apparently taken — and Val accidentally gunned down the boss’ son three decades ago. Claphands’ revenge: Forcing Val to sit in prison this whole time only to have him killed as soon as he’s free.
The angle holds up better than it should. Pacino and Walken find some quality moments in an otherwise flat screenplay by playwright Noah Haidle, which in turn is lethargically paced by director Fisher Stevens. Even though it is painfully slow, Stand Up Guys finds some minor acceleration when third wheel Alan Arkin comes aboard. That’s what Alan Arkin does for a living.
However, all of them aren’t enough to overcome what simply seems like an unfinished film in a lot of ways. There has to be more to their story, there have to be more things these actors can give you, and there have to be better reasons we’d want to see Pacino and Walken in the same movie now, outside of the fact that they are.