The Old Man & The Gun, 2018.
Directed by David Lowery.
Starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Keith Carradine, and Elizabeth Moss.
Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal and escape artist continues robbing banks in his seventies while the law closes in on him.
David Lowery’s style has varied from film to film and his latest is no different as its a bio-pic of sorts on the later years of the real-life bank robber Forrest Tucker. Legendary veteran actor Robert Redford portrays the famed robber in what may be his final role of an illustrious career with support from Sissy Spacek, another veteran actress, and Casey Affleck in what ends up being a fun and entertaining film with a ton of charisma thanks to Redford. The Old Man & The Gun is a whip-smart film that showcases the strength of its cast over anything else.
It goes without saying Redford is the film’s best aspect as the career criminal. He’s very charismatic, funny and places a lot of nuance into Tucker’s persona as he commits robbery after robbery. It’s easy to see why so many people throughout the film easily follow his demands thanks to his charming and polite persona, presenting himself as a ‘gentleman’ criminal while he views his crimes as a way to keep active and live life to the fullest. With every smile, wink or white lie/omission, Redford endears himself further to the audience that almost makes you root for Tucker’s success with each heist despite how ignoble it is or the neglect he can give to people who should matter to him.
That’s where Sissy Spacek comes in as Jewel, a woman Tucker comes into contact with shortly after a heist. Spacek is as much of a scene stealer as Redford is as the care-free rancher who wants to enjoy life like Tucker does. Redford and Spacek share some great chemistry with each other as the two bond over the course of the film. Their relationship isn’t exactly romantic per se, but seems more like two people who begin a friendship and develop some level of feelings toward each other over time. Their relationship feels very organic and true to the characters while providing some of the lighter and dramatic moments in the film, such as when Tucker joyfully tries getting Jewel to walk out of a jewelry store without paying for an item. Their relationship is enough to get you wishing Redford and Spacek had done more work together in their long careers.
Casey Affleck’s John Hunt is also one of the nice additions to the film that offers a bit of a different take on the cop/criminal trope. Affleck doesn’t feature quite as much in the film as one might expect, at least not directly with Redford as he tracks down information on Tucker’s past. He does display Hunt’s intellect and dedication to the job quite well, but much more emphasis is actually placed on his family life rather than his work. Like Redford and Spacek, Affleck shares good chemistry with Tika Sumpter, who plays his wife Maureen. It’s an interesting approach as most cops & robbers movies focus on the cat-and-mouse chase, but this deviation pays off pretty well by making both Tucker and Hunt seem more human while highlighting the differences and similarities in their personal lives.
The rest of the cast does well with their roles, though don’t share too much screen time in the film. Danny Glover and Tom Waits are the two most notable members of the supporting cast as Tucker’s accomplices in the ‘Over The Hill Gang’. They provide some more comedic elements in their scenes with Redford and while their time is limited, they make the most of it and show theirs is a genuine friendship between the three of them rather than an informal partnership.
Lowery’s writing and direction is on point with a lot of clever dialogue, good characterization and nice pacing. Lowery’s biggest accomplishment is how he focuses on the characters during the robberies or chase scenes rather than any action spectacle. His decision to use actual film and make it look like a homage to 70s-era crime films works well in his favour, giving it a nice authentic look that gives character to the film. Lowery’s editing also keeps Old Man & The Gun feel fresh, moving and comedic. The sequence of Tucker’s various escapes is particularly memorable as is all the witness accounts of his bank robberies. The film takes its time to explore the characters while never feeling like its slowed down.
The Old Man & The Gun is a fresh take on the cops and robbers formula by focusing on the lives of Tucker and Hunt. The fact he’s a career bank robber is almost inconsequential, more of a by product of Tucker’s own character than a wrong turn in life. If this is to be Redford’s final performance, it’s quite fitting and ironic it’s of a man who loves what what he does no matter the trouble it gets him in and can’t stop no matter what. Redford and Spacek shine together as does the rest of the cast and Lowery’s direction and focus on the story elevates the film from a mere crime drama to something more endearing.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★