Say it isn’t so. But according to authentic Hollywood golden boy Robert Redford—no longer a boy but still box-office gold—The Old Man & the Gun will be his final film. Regrettable as that may be, it’s a perfect way, at age 82, to tip his ten-gallon hat and say adios.
In the center spotlight of this remarkable true story, he truly shines in the role of Forrest Tucker, a popular and beloved bank robber who held up scores of banks with charm and style in the 1980s across six states, and made 18 successful escapes, including one most famously reported from San Quentin in 1970. What made him different as a media sensation from other career criminals is simple: he was a senior citizen who everyone, including tellers, bank managers, witnesses and other victims, cheerfully labeled polite, nice, and a real gentleman. Sound like a movie star you know and love?
THE OLD MAN & THE GUN ★★★★
First arrested at age 15, Forrest spent a huge chunk of his life in jail and most of his energy and focus on daring breakouts. His three-man crew of senior citizens were affectionately labeled The Over-The-Hill Gang. The movie shows how, even in peaceful retirement, they could not resist the lure of one more heist for fun. Writer-director David Lowery (A Ghost Story) carefully delves into their camaraderie, too (well played by Danny Glover and Tom Waits, who writes great songs but, as a singer, is, in my opinion, the worst vocalist in the history of music). Also in the mix are Casey Affleck, as the battered but tireless Texas cop John Hunt, who pursued them vigilantly while remaining undaunted in his affection for the crooks and fascination for their ingenuity, competing with the feds to see who could crack the case and catch the old guys first—and Sissy Spacek as Jewel, the widowed ranch owner whose love for the charming, clever and gentle Forrest never faded.
The magical chemistry between Redford and Spacek cannot be overestimated. Every time they meet, in a diner or a truck, the strength of their friendship overpowers the usual superfluous Hollywood sex scenes in ways that redefine the word charisma. Redford is so generous in sharing the screen with her that it’s easy to understand why she finds his droll manner so intriguing. Both senior citizens now, they light up the screen with a brightness beyond Technicolor.
To Forrest, life is one big continuous adventure. As long as no one is hurt, he feels robbing bans is his primary source of happiness. It’s a perfect role for one of the cinema’s most cherished actors, embracing his natural likability like no other film since The Way We Were. Under Lowery’s thoughtful direction, it moves slowly but it is never boring or confusing. Warm and funny and mesmerizing in its understated perfection, The Old Man & the Gun is a splendid experience.