Directed by: Fisher Stevens
After having served 28 years in prison for refusing to give up one of his close criminal associates Valentine (Pacino) is finally released, as having served his time. Upon his release, he is met by his best friend, Doc (Walken) — the guy he wouldn’t give up — is there to pick him up. After all these years the two men have remained friends, and reestablish their bond, which has remained as strong as ever. Unfortunately, as we soon learn, there is something of a problem as well an old debt that needs to be paid. Still, as these guys are aging (retired) mobsters, Val (as he prefers to be called) knows what is coming next, and managed to cajole his old friend into a night of debauchery. During the course of the night, they reunite with another old pal, Hirsch (Arkin), and continue their partying.
Needless to say, the evening is filled not only with melancholy remembrances of days past, but in spite of their advanced age it turns out that their capacity for exuberant revelry and random mayhem is still very much alive and well, and soon bullets and fists fly as the trio of senior citizens make a valiant effort to compensate for the decades of crime, drugs and sex they’ve missed out on enjoying. Still, time is running out and even as the sun rises on their impromptu reunion, their position becomes more and more perilous and they discover to finally confront their past — and the mob boss that set up the hit — once and for all.
OK, let’s get this straight, this film is something of a mixed bag, in that it is a warm, touching, funny, and often brutally violent film. Val and Doc both know what is going on, and, as “stand up guys” they each know what has to be done. There is debt, obligation, friendship, and dues that must be paid, as well as a healthy amount of self-preservation all of which these men display as they run their course through the night. Pacino, Walken, and Arkin are absolutely perfect in these roles and deliver amazing performances (it is amazing to watch the ever-creepy Walken fumble and mumble his way through a role as he is usually the menacing figure in whatever film in which he appears. Meanwhile Pacino plays the adult bad-boy gangster that he has always been and walks away with each scene. Of course Arkin delivers a solid performance (as always) as the getaway driver member of the team.
Throughout the course of the night we learn bits and pieces of the past lives of these men (Doc’s daughter won’t talk to him, and he is wants to meet and talk to his granddaughter, Val (accidently) got the mob boss’ son killed during a robbery, while Hirsch (who has emphysema) own daughter (Margulies — who all these years after ER is apparently still playing a nurse) is actually still dedicated to her father. During the course of the night the boys get involved in a couple of fights, a shooting or two, rob a pharmacy, meet some girls, seek forgiveness, steal a car, visit a cat house (several times), and even get hilariously involved with rescuing a young and very beautiful woman all while attempting to enjoy their final few hours with each other. Plus we get to hear Pacino deliver one of the best eulogies anyone has ever delivered in a film. Ultimately, watching these profoundly wonderful actors go through their paces makes you realize how talented they are when they are when performing in a well-written and directed film.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.