After 28 years in jail, gangster Val (Al Pacino) finds his mild-mannered old mucker Doc (Christopher Walken) waiting for him by the gates, ready to take him home to his humble abode.
Doc is even prepared to take Val to the nearest house of ill repute – and secure the appropriate medication for him when things don’t run according to plan.
But this is no usual buddy movie. Slowly, it dawns on you that Doc’s real role, acting on the orders of their gangland boss, is to kill Val – punishment for his part in the seemingly-accidental death of the boss’ son all those years before.
It’s a mission that Val takes surprisingly well, remarkably well in fact, as the two plan one last hurrah before knuckling down to the inevitable.
In one distinctly-busy night, they manage to rescue a naked woman from the boot of a car they’ve stolen; they exact bloody revenge on her captors; and then it’s off to liberate from his old people’s home their mate and former driver Hirsch (Alan Arkin). One minute Hirsch is quietly sucking on oxygen; the next he’s getting a high of a different kind, pursued by the cops in the kind of high-speed chase which presumably was once their everyday bread and butter.
At times, the film rambles just a bit, but slowly it drags you into the bizarre Doc/Val friendship, Pacino playing a typically-razzled Pacino-type character and Walken offering great support as his sweet-natured facilitator and appointed executioner.
But will Doc pull the trigger when the time comes the next morning? That’s the whole point of watching the film.
It’s not a particularly-memorable one, and nor is it a particularly-good one, but it’s got a certain something as you find yourself rooting for this pair of geriatric ne’er do wells as they determine to go out in style.
Director Fisher Stevens marshals it all very nicely towards a conclusion that won’t disappoint, with Pacino on great form in a film which is more footnote than stunner.