Robert Redford’s spectacular acting career is over, and his final performance comes in the new crime comedy, The Old Man & the Gun. The ‘mostly true story’ also features a stellar supporting cast with Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Sissy Spacek, and Tom Waits. Fortunately, this is not another Gangster Squad; this film is more than just an impressive cast. It’s a wonderful cinematic experience.
Based on the real-life criminal and prison escape artist, The Old Man & the Gun tells the story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), the world’s most charming criminal. He loves robbing banks and cannot stop because of the joy he gets from it, and despite his chosen profession, you cannot help but fall in love with Redford’s character. While robbing one bank, he consoles the girl at the counter as she places the money in the bag, and even compliments her by saying “you’re doing a good job.” Not a scene you see every day. Every fibre of our being tells us it’s wrong, and just like the victims of Tucker’s actions, we cannot stop ourselves from liking this ‘gentleman.’
When Tucker meets Jewel (Sissy Spacek), his life changes, and he begins to contemplate his lifestyle and whether or not he should settle down. During this time detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) becomes obsessed with the robberies, and his pursuit of Tucker helps him change his demeanour from a slightly depressed cop who has lost faith in the system to a motivated man determined to put an end to a case.
The relationship between Tucker and Hunt is the highlight of the film, as they share some amusing moments when exchanging subtle jabs at one another. There is also a unique dynamic between the two because the younger policeman is learning how to embrace and enjoy life from an older man who goes against his professional beliefs.
Their first meeting is reminiscent of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s coffee shop scene in Heat; it has that same special vibe. As a member of the audience, you cannot help but smile when seeing the two go back and forth. Casey and Redford, in particular, give standout performances, but the rest of the cast hold their own as well.
The team behind the film also deserves a great deal of praise. Editor Lisa Zeno Churgin has tied the film together beautifully, making it flow and never leaving you with a dull moment. They also utilise cuts well, creating some suspense at key points of the story. Long takes help the dialogue and actions sink in, which is something you do not see a lot of today. Symbolism is also intelligently incorporated, especially in the scene when Waller (Tom Waits) asks Tucker if his decision to live opposite a cemetery was intentional.
David Lowery’s reliance on his actors is quite clear, and these roles in the hands of lesser actors would lead to a much different outcome for The Old Man & the Gun. The film also lacks depth at times. We receive no explanation for why John Hunt is so depressed at the beginning. He has a beautiful wife and two kids. What’s the problem? Plus, glorifying a man who robs banks is always a risky move in the world we live in today.
Overall, The Old Man & the Gun delivers. Whether it’s the editing or the little nuances in the script, the film shines in a lot of areas. Plus, it never hurts to have Oscar-worthy performances. All in all, this a must-see film, and it’s a fitting conclusion to the career of a legend. The film’s climax also nicely wraps up the story of Forrest Tucker and Robert Redford’s acting career.
Dir: David Lowery
Prd: James D. Stern & Dawn Ostroff
Scr: David Lowery
Starring: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Sissy Spacek, and Tom Waits
DOP: Joe Anderson
Run time: 93 mins
The Old Man & The Gun is released in UK cinemas on 7th Dec