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South Valley Journal

Dan's Review: Redford's final role perfect for "The Old Man and the Gun"

Oct 12, 2018 11:51AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Sissy Spacek and Robert Redford in The Old Man & the Gun - © 2018 Fox Searchlight.

The Old Man and the Gun (Fox Searchlight)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Starring Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Elisabeth Moss, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Keith Carradine, John David Washington, Augustine Frizzell, and Gene Jones.

Written and Directed by David Lowery.

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:

Getting old is not the same as growing up, they say, and for people like Robert Redford, the aging process seems more like a cheat code. We should all be so lucky to look as good as that dude when we’re 82 years old. Perhaps the Sundance Kid isn’t feeling much like a kid anymore, which is why he announced that this weekend’s release of The Old Man and the Gun would be his last acting performance (I wouldn’t count him out of producing or directing again). Either way, his fans can only hope that his last performance is a fitting end to a prolific and illustrious career.

Redford stars as the real-life career criminal Forrest Tucker, a prolific bank robber responsible for stealing millions of dollars over eight decades. Tucker is the leader of a small gang consisting of Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits). The gang’s M.O. is simple: they case a bank for a few days, figuring out their routines until Tucker approaches a manager or teller and calmly informs them that they are being robbed. This gentlemanly approach proves rather effective since senior citizens don’t’ really fit the mold of bank robbers. After one such robbery in the first of the film, Tucker poses as a man trying to help a woman with engine trouble on the side of the road during a police chase. The woman is Jewel (Sissy Spacek), who is as charmed as one of Tucker’s robbery victims. The pair hits it off into a developing romance, even though Jewel doesn’t know about her boyfriend’s criminal history. At the same time, a police detective named John Hunt (Casey Affleck) makes the “Over the Hill Gang” (as they were known) his personal mission. The thing that makes Tucker stand out from other bank robbers who usually commit their crimes to finance drug addictions or other desperate situations is his love of the chase, the thrill of getting away, and the eventual the triumph of escape (the real Tucker broke out of at least 17 varied incarcerations, which is referenced in the movie). Tucker’s relationship with Jewel continues to develop as his string of robberies continues. Hunt chances upon his real identity and the law finally catches up with Tucker, but the story doesn’t end there. Can an old bank robber find happiness without committing crimes?

Perhaps The Old Man and the Gun really is a fitting end to Redford’s acting career. Maybe Redford feels like he’s been a kid in a candy store, stealing audiences’ hearts during his lengthy career, smiling all the way.  Redford’s performance is spot-on, and the chemistry shared with Spacek is equally recognizable. Affleck also delivers a great supporting performance, along with Tika Sumpter, who plays his wife.

Overall, the movie is as charming as the man himself, with a simple devil-may-care tone about living your life the way you want and having fun. I’m a little wary that such stories are outliers in the world of crime, and The Old Man and the Gun certainly glosses over the collateral damage such a life would exploit, such as the women who loved Tucker and the children who never had the privilege of having a father in their lives.

Even so, The Old Man and the Gun gives audiences a chance to sit back and chuckle at the audacity of someone who refused to play by society’s rules. Even if most folks can find joy within the boundaries of the law, it’s a sentiment worth visiting on screen.

 

The Old Man and the Gun