It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
What does Sidney Lumet's "Family Business" want to be? A caper movie, or a family drama? I ask because the movie seems to pursue both goals with equal success until about the three-quarter mark and then leaves leftover details of the caper hanging disconcertingly in midair.
I was distracted during the movie's important final scenes by a large unanswered question, which I'll get to later.
Good news first. The movie stars Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick as three generations of the same family, all touched one way or another by crime. Connery, the grandfather, is a Scotsman whose arrest record is as long as his arm. He lives by one of those macho criminal codes in which you haven't proven anything unless you've proven it with your fists, and as the movie opens he's in jail after getting in a bar brawl with an off-duty policeman.
Hoffman is Connery's son, half Scots and half Sicilian ("He'd be 5 inches taller with a Scots mother," Connery observes), and Broderick is Hoffman's son, half Jewish. The movie makes such a point of the hereditary makeup of the three men, I guess, because the caper involves breaking into a genetic engineering laboratory and stealing some DNA research material. The idea for the caper comes from Broderick, a Westinghouse Scholar who has never been involved in crime before. Hoffman is adamantly opposed to it - he still bears the wounds of his childhood with a criminal father - but Connery is enthusiastic, and Hoffman finally decides to come along out of concern for the safety of his son.