Al Pacino’s latest film, Danny Collins, is about one artist’s attempt at a comeback through reinvention. Pacino has had one of the most acclaimed careers of any actor, but he’s fallen on some rough times in recent years. Despite some good notices on a couple of Broadway shows, most of his films have been clunkers, both critically and financially, over the last decade. So if Pacino ever really did need a comeback, Danny Collins would seem like a perfect start. Danny Collins is by no means a standout film, but it succeeds in everything it is trying to do despite no real ambitions. It’s charming and it allows Pacino to have fun and show that he can still act. It’s a nice, simple start if Pacino ever did decide to get back into serious acting.
Danny Collins follows the eponymous singer (Al Pacino) as he celebrates another birthday. When his manager (Christopher Plummer) gives Danny a letter addressed to him from John Lennon that he never read, it inspires him to start his life over again. His first step is to find the son (Bobby Cannavale) that he never met.
Other than a third act that loses its direction, this is a completely competent film. The writing is charming yet not groundbreaking. The directing is solid with a tiny sense of quirkiness, and there is some craftwork (the sound design is strong and the original songs put together are actually catchy) that really pops for a film that doesn’t really need the craftwork to standout. So it’s a slight shame that the film can’t stick the landing with some plot threads left dangling and an ending to the main story that isn’t as poignant as it easily could have been.
The film is fortunately elevated by a strong performance from its ensemble. The dialogue allows Al Pacino to give his most lively performance in easily a decade and Pacino adds some dramatic depth to the film that wasn’t really there in the script. Additionally, Annette Bening, Melissa Benoist and, especially, Jennifer Garner (who really delivers in her final scene) all bring a charming presence to the film. While Bobby Cannavale doesn’t exactly do much from his normal shtick, he is well cast in a role that needs some much needed loud and angry energy.
Danny Collins is a fun if slight film that allows Al Pacino to give one of his best performances in years.