Going in Style is a pretty much average film overall, helped mainly by the charisma of its 3 venerable stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. The film tells the tale of 3 retired workers who have lost their pensions due to nefarious corporate wheeling and dealing. Eventually they get around to making a decision to rob a bank, the same bank responsible for the deal that took away their pensions. As the heist kicks in the film does get a boost of energy with director Zach Braff capturing the action in some interesting ways but the film never really takes off.
During the heist Freeman’s character Willie becomes distracted by a little Asian girl and speaks to her while suffering an attack due to his ill health. It is the kind of cringe inducing narrative choices that infuriate me. Why would his character do this at that moment? They have got to get in and out of the bank quickly. You know narratively there has to be a payoff but you’re insulted by the lack of character motivation and sheer stupidity by people you’re supposed to be rooting for. Yet there is a payoff and against my better judgement I couldn’t help but approve.
Annabelle Chow plays the little Asian girl named Lucy who is there at the bank during the heist with her mother. The pay off is in a later scene she can identify Morgan Freeman’s character by his watch. Matt Dillion suspects our three heroes and hauls them in front of Lucy to have her identify them from the line-up. During his interactions with Lucy, Willie mentioned he had a granddaughter. Chow comes in as Lucy, stares down all the suspects and then is adamant that nobody present were the bank robbers.
On her way out of the police station she walks past Morgan Freeman’s daughter played by Ashley Aufderheide. The camera goes into slow motion and as the two little girls walk past each other, Annabelle clutching a doll gives the most gangster nod to Ashley. Cheesy as fuck, predictable for a few but in that moment I tipped my hat to young Ms Chow. From the bank heist to her poker face during the line-up and then that simple gesture on her way out she gives a great performance. It’s pretty simple I admit but there’s something touching about the morality of a child. They are known to have sixth sense and something in her during the heist had seen that this man was not a threat and surrounded by adults suspecting she was lying and talking about the importance of the law she had come to a simple choice – this man has a granddaughter like me and I’m not taking her grandfather away from her. With that simple choice by Lucy perfectly conveyed by Ms Chow the sentiment of it all touched me. One of the most annoying things about a film had been redeemed. Sure they could have found another way to set it up better but thanks to Annabelle Chow I was happy enough. As a minor character she seals the fate of the main characters and their families and highlights some of the central values of the film. Not bad for what was a probably a couple of day’s work. Well done Annabelle.