Published Jan 31, 2013Doc (Christopher Walken) is a retired hood, living a quiet, solitary existence consisting largely of painting landscapes and eating every day at the same diner where his favourite waitress, Alex (Addison Timlin), works. But today, his old partner-in-crime, Val (Al Pacino), is getting out of prison after serving 28 years and, over the course of one sleepless night, they try to recapture some of their old magic and forget about the fact that Doc is required to kill Val before morning.
Walken and Pacino sink their teeth into what are some of their best parts in years. Pacino is a hoot as a bundle of unbridled yet arthritic energy, desperately looking to turn his final hours into a debaucherous party. Walken, meanwhile, makes for an oddly effective straight man, reminding us again that in spite of his unpredictable tics and hilarious vocal inflections, there's a reservoir of sadness at his disposal behind those eyes.
On the day Val went into prison, powerful crime boss Claphands (Mark Margolis) assigned Doc the task of immediately ending his eventual short-lived freedom, an act of retribution for Claphands's son getting caught in Val's crossfire during a botched robbery. As they count the hours until dawn, they pick up their former driver, Hirsch (Alan Arkin), and make a few stops at a familiar brothel now run by the previous proprietor's daughter, Wendy (a delightfully loopy Lucy Punch).
The loose, episodic plot may meander, but it affords the opportunity for some great interplay between the leads, as they banter with each other in scenes that ignite the same magnetic quality that made them legends. Some of the best moments in the film are the ones in which Pacino and Walken simply fall into the rhythms of an old friendship, as when they discuss in one funny exchange various methods of penis enlargement.
It's not surprising that such a showcase for acting would be directed by an actor himself, in Fisher Stevens. He possesses enough sense to allow talents like these to stretch their legs in familiar roles as criminals, managing to strike a more reflective note now in the twilight of their careers. As the clock ticks inexorably towards the moment of truth, the pair acknowledges that their best years are likely behind them and these precious times are not to be taken for granted.
In doing so, the old guys make perfectly clear that they are not about to go gently into the good night. (eOne)