THE OLD MAN & THE GUN

DI­REC­TOR David Low­ery CAST Robert Red­ford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Af­fleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits

Empire (Australasia) - - Contents - JAMES JEN­NINGS

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?”

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