Geoff Cox’s DVD reviews: Stand Up Guys, Hummingbird, The Bling Ring, Snitch
What can be better than watching old Hollywood pros at work, especially in a film that’s worthy of them?
Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin are sheer class in STAND UP GUYS (15: Entertainment In Video), a smart and hugely likeable little comedy drama.
Fresh from a 28-year prison stretch, Val (Pacino) spends his first night of freedom schmoozing with Doc (Walken), his best buddy and former partner in crime.
The pair nostalgically trawl old haunts, but there’s a hidden agenda as one of them has been pressured into killing the other to settle an old gangland grudge.
Pacino and Walken have never been better and neither has Arkin is a small but pivotal role as the duo’s ageing ex-getaway driver.
Stand Up Guys is a pure joy from start to finish – a film that will linger in the memory long after bigger, more bloated blockbusters have been and gone.
> Strangely, Jason Statham’s performance as traumatised former soldier Joey fleeing a court martial is the most believable thing in HUMMINGBIRD (15: Lionsgate).
When Joey goes to ground in London, the underworld – and a spot of vengeance – soon beckon. Statham biffs a few villains en route, yet also proves he can convince as a troubled, volatile individual rather than just delivering the fleet-footed action turn expected by his fans.
Evidently, debut director Steven Knight intended to weave a modern Dickensian fable of unexpected encounters in the capital’s great melting pot, but the story takes too many liberties to satisfy. Credibility is stretched beyond breaking point with a romantic subplot involving a charitable East European nun.
> THE BLING RING (15: Studio Canal), the latest film from Lost In Translation director Sofia Coppola, is a dryly funny and rather perceptive take on a very modern kind of crime.
Based on a true story, a group of Los Angeles high school kids (former Hermione Granger, Emma Watson, among them) become so obsessed with tabloid stars’ private lives that they decide to steal from their houses.
Despite setting out to be more crime drama than comedy, there are plenty of laughs to be had, mostly from the outlaw band moving from petty theft to burglary.
They hang out in the gaudy real-life home of Paris Hilton, multiple times, without the heiress ever noticing.
And driven by the adrenaline rush, they become even more daring and starting thieving from other celebrity properties to finance a life of drug-fuelled decadence.
> If you put Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson in a half-decent film, he effortlessly shows what a good actor he is.
SNITCH (12: Momentum) is a solid action thriller in which he plays construction boss John Matthews, whose estranged son falls foul of harsh mandatory minimum sentencing after stupidly taking part in a low-level drugs deal.
Matthews persuades a DA (Susan Sarandon) to let him pose as a truck-driving drugs trafficker to entrap dealers important enough to get his boy freed from prison.
Action scenes, shoot-outs and car chases are efficiently handled and Johnson impresses in the more emotional moments. It’s also nice to see him keeping his shirt on for once. Even if it’s not quite the really good film that Johnson has in him, Snitch more than passes muster.