By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Val (Al Pacino) is a small-time gangster who has spent the last 28 years in prison for the accidental death of one of his accomplices during a robbery. Upon his release, he is met by Doc (Christopher Walken), a former partner who managed to avoid prosecution for the same crime. Doc takes Val out for a night on the town, picking up their dying friend Hirsch (Alan Arkin) at a nursing home to bring the gang back together for a final night. What Val doesn’t know is that Doc is under orders to kill him by 10:00pm the next day. (The accomplice killed in the robbery was the son of Mob Boss “Claphands” (Mark Margolis), and he is a decidedly unforgiving individual).
This film could be called “America’s dumpiest most wanted”, as the characters in the film are once-respectable gangsters who have seen far better days. Al Pacino and Christopher Walken have such excellent screen chemistry that one gets the sense they had an absolute ball making this movie. It comes out prominently in their performances, which seem effortless without feeling tossed-off, and lose none of the complexity and power they are both capable of. Walken has a voice that is capable of the strangest kind of emotion. He could read out of a children’s book and it would be amazing.
Yes, yes it is
The story is simple but well staged, and is loose enough to allow these film vets time to play around with their characters. I found myself laughing more often than not at the antics of the pair, and feeling genuine concern for Val and Doc’s plight.
None of this ever coalesced into anything more than a simple piece of light entertainment. The script attempts nothing we haven’t seen and heard before. To be fair, it never tries for anything new anyway, but it is a shame that Al Pacino and Christopher Walken couldn’t make their first onscreen team-up more substantial.
What keeps this film watchable though is Christopher Walken, whose comedic timing is employed in equal measure with his intense acting style he has honed ever since Annie Hall.
Some of the comedic elements feel a bit too generic, particularly a rather forced scene where Pacino takes too many Viagras. Still, Pacino and Walken’s amiable relationship manage to keep the film from completely falling off the edge.
If you want to see two of the greatest actors of their generation have a great time working together, this is a good choice. It won’t win any awards, but then it wasn’t meant to either.
Take a Drink: when Walken pauses at a strange part of his line
Take a Drink: whenever they eat at the same diner
Do a Shot: for an Al Pacino boner