The Old Man and the Gun review: Robert Redford leads the cast of his swan song, a light-hearted, very sweet tale of an ageing criminal making his way across the U.S. taking down banks as a third of the infamous Over The Hill Gang.
The Old Man and the Gun review [TIFF]
It’s the early 1980s, Redford’s character Forrest Tucker in his mid 70s. He’s well dressed, good mannered and an all-round nice chap. He takes down banks, sometime alone, sometimes with his three-man crew (Danny Glover and Tom Waits). His call sign is his hat and moustache, along with his beaming smile and politeness when requesting for the cashier/manager to empty their cash draws and fill his swag bag.
A new pattern of robberies has alerted the local authorities, notably Casey Affleck’s Texas policeman who has just witnessed, unbeknownst to him, one of the gang’s robberies – the whole thing carried out as he was a teller in the same establishment. His following pursuit becomes a personal odyssey, but Forrest appears to always be one step ahead, consistently evading capture and almost taunting those who are after him.
Amidst all this, Forrest has met and fallen for widowed pensioner Jewel (Sissy Spacek), who has also seemingly falling for his charms. The film documents the weeks that follow, a massively enjoyable, very-light hearted, sometimes funny feature, a perfect and fitting end to the career of an acting legend.
There’s a deep history to the character that Redford plays, and we learn of his many incarcerations and subsequent escapes throughout his career. We get to take trip back at one point to see some of his great escapes and you can’t help but think that Director David Lowery is giving us a gentle nod to Redford’s own body of work from the decades passed. For example, we get to see him on horseback, that handsome leading man beaming throughout, and we even get one shot of a much younger Redford from many years ago, spliced in perfectly supposedly from unused archive footage.
Redford and his cast are all fantastic, of course. Casey Affleck delivers his weathered, down in the dumps policeman who finds himself again as he takes on the Tucker case, with a great amount warm of sensitivity, his John Hunt having a clear amount of respect for the ‘old man’.
David Lowery delivers a very different film to what you may expect from the guy who brought us A Ghost Story and even Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. It is thoroughly enjoyable and utterly heartfelt through and I really didn’t want it to end.
There isn’t a better movie to send off such an icon – it really is one of those movies that you want to watch again almost immediately. It’s just really, really lovely.
The Old Man and the Gun review by Paul Heath, September 2018.