THE OLD MAN & THE GUN
DIRECTOR David Lowery CAST Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits
Robert Redford’s final acting role! Unless, of course, he’s signed up for 17 more Captain America films.
PLOT Forrest Tucker (Redford), a career criminal in his seventies infamous for his gentlemanly demeanour while performing bank heists, embarks upon a crime spree that he endeavours to keep secret from widower Jewel (Spacek), the current recipient of his considerable charms.
WHEN ROBERT REDFORD informed the world of his retirement from acting in August of this year, essentially making The Old Man & The Gun his final on-screen performance, there was a genuine sense of loss and a marked end of an era. One of the last jobbing Old Hollywood superstars, the announcement placed a certain weighty importance on The Old Man & The Gun: it was no longer just a film, but Robert Redford’s final film. Anything less than a loving, note-perfect tribute wasn’t going to cut it.
Whether or not writer-director David Lowery (who worked with Redford previously on warm ‘n’ fuzzy 2016 family flick Pete’s Dragon) knew of the actor’s intentions prior to working on The Old Man & The Gun is unknown, but it certainly feels thoughtfully engineered to not only evoke the cinematic feel and aesthetic of Redford’s golden ’60s and ’70s heyday, but provide the perfect canvas for the 82-year-old to unleash his undeniably magnetic charisma.
Said charisma is put to perfect use in his on-screen depiction of Forrest Tucker, a notorious real-life career criminal known for his politeness during robberies and a claim that he successfully escaped from prison eight times. The Old Man & The Gun focusses on a period after a 1979 escape from San Quentin State Prison where Tucker and his so-called ‘Overthe-hill-gang’ of thieving seniors embarked upon a cross-country crime spree involving numerous bank heists.
It’s during one of these audacious daylight robberies with gang members Teddy and Waller (Danny Glover and Tom Waits, both more loveable grandad than gritty gangster) that Tucker meets Jewel (Sissy Spacek). On the run from the cops, he hitches a ride with the kindnatured widower and soon enough is using his irresistible charm on someone other than a startled bank manager.
From here the film toggles between a double romance of sorts: a sweet old-timey courtship between Forrest and Jewel, and the impassioned pursuit of Forrest by Casey Affleck’s Detective John Hunt, a man intent on capturing the slippery thief and his cohorts. The pair, in different ways, soon discover it’s difficult to not be seduced by Forrest’s debonair ways.
Lowery directs with a leisurely pace
– though not quite as leisurely as 2017’s meditative A Ghost Story – allowing Redford plenty of breathing room to luxuriate in the kind of twinkly-eyed “smooth outlaw” role he made his name with in classics like Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and The Sting. It’s a pleasure to watch him wrap into a role like a snug blanket, and as far as fitting farewells go, this is just about perfect.
VERDICT A thoroughly enjoyable old-fashioned crime caper that allows a true Hollywood legend to bless us with his megawatt charm one final time and go out with a gentle, generous bang.
“So, do you come to this filthy auto workshop often?”