The Old Man and the Gun is a fine study of Robert Redford’s acting craft, a slow, understated performance that fits snugly with the dynamics of the movie. It is seemingly based on a true story.
Veteran screen practitioner Redford, who, at 82, has stated that this is his final film role, manages to penetrate beneath the skin of his character, Forrest Tucker, a career criminal, and gives it resonance.
His natural charm as an actor seeps through every scene and he doesn’t have to try too hard to convince.
Tucker is an unusual individual, to say the least. He has been on the wrong side of the law since he was a delinquent teenager.
He grew into his career over the years as a slick bank robber, defying the authorities by breaking out of prison 18 times. This included a daring escape from San Quentin at the ripe old age of 70.
He relies more on his genteel way with words than he does with the revolver hiding in his coat pocket, a technique that has served him well for a long stretch (the film is mostly set around 1981).
The Old Man and the Gun covers Tucker’s twilight years, and the unprecedented string of daring heists he pulled which confounded the authorities and enchanted the public.
Director David Lowery’s slow-burning drama wrests entirely on three key characters: Tucker, the woman whom he falls for, Jewel (Sissy Spacek) and John Hunt, a cynical cop, played by Casey Affleck who is trying to track him down.
The narrative includes some amusing elements pertaining to the casual way Tucker does his job and the laid-back, cutesy relationship between him and Jewel.
Wrapped up in this chase is Casey Affleck’s detective who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft.
There are two appealing cameo appearances by Danny Glover and singer/songwriter Tom Waits, as his partners in crime.
The movie is really a casual stroll in the park and may not appeal to fast action junkies looking for a high body count. There is also little genuine tension in the heists that Tucker commits.
All his victims describe him as nice and polite and the production reflects this aspect.
One thing remains clear, however, and that is Redford’s iconic standing in the field of cinematic accomplishments. His final outing, while not a landmark performance, is nevertheless satisfyingly good.
Cast: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits
Director: David Lowery
Classification: 10-12 PGL