Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stand Up

Sunday, John took me to see Stand Up Guys. It was a movie I had little interest in seeing, but I had selected our last movie, Zero Dark Thirty, so I could hardly complain that I am offended by mindless violence.

(Spoilers) The first two-thirds of the movie lived down to my expectations. Al Pacino plays a former hit man (Val) who has been released from prison on parole, with Christopher Walken (Doc) playing his buddy who has stuck by him the whole time and who picks Val up from prison when he gets out. Val has served 28 years for a job gone wrong in which a mob boss’s only son gets killed. At that point a “little does he know that I know that he knows that I know” scenario ensues as Val finally confronts Doc about Doc’s latest assignment: killing Val.

They set off on one last night of celebrating Val’s freedom before the deadline of 10 the next morning, by which time Val has to be dead or there will be repercussions for Doc. Their adventures take them to a house of prostitution and then the emergency room of a local hospital, where they meet the daughter of their old partner, Hirsch. On finding out that Hirsch is in a nursing home, they decide to rescue him. Hirsch once again becomes their driver in a stolen sports car. A police chase leads to them finding a kidnapped woman in the trunk. Val and Doc decide to seek vengeance for her, and return to find Hirsch dead.

No, I am not making this up. Script writer Noah Haidle did. And if you’re a little startled, imagine the look on the priest’s face when Val confesses to all this the next morning.

Just about the time I was ready to close my eyes and settle in for a nap, I started to like these guys. Yes, they were that staple of bad movies, hardened criminals with hearts of gold, but they had their standards and their loyalties. Within the norms of their world, they did indeed try to be stand up guys, but as the priest told Val, “You’re not going to be able to Hail Mary your way out of this one.”

The movie ending came as a surprise to me, yet it ended the only way it could. Let’s just say it involved a line from another movie I’ve never seen, “I’m all outta bubble gum,” and my favorite lines from Stand Up Guys:

Doc: Tomorrow turned into today.
Val: It always does.

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