Not only is this a remarkable story, it’s also Robert Redford’s final film as he waltzes off into retirement. So, what has Redford decided upon for his swansong, what is he bowing out to?
Well, The Old Man & The Gun is the superb story of Forrest Tucker (Redford), a 70-something year old bank robber who just loved what he did. He would walk into a bank, politely announce he was robbing them, get them to fill a bag from the cash desks, and then walk out, smiling throughout whilst listening to his earphones which were tuned to the police radios.
Redford pulls this off with aplomb, smiling and acting polite throughout, it’s a brilliant performance by anyone’s standard, a great one to bow out on.
When we first meet Tucker, he’s just escaping from his latest job and he uses a stricken Jewel, Sissy Spacek (“Castle Rock (TV)“, “The Help”), as cover. Pulling over to help her with her truck, despite knowing nothing about cars.
The two get on and begin to hang out more and more often. All the while, Tucker and his compatriots: Teddy, Danny Glover (“Proud Mary“, “Lethal Weapon”), and Waller, Tom Waits (“The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (TV)“, “Seven Psychopaths”), are pulling off other heists and planning a big one.
On their trail is detective John Hunt, Casey Affleck (“A Ghost Story“, “Manchester By The Sea“), who is the first to see a pattern in the robberies and realise there’s just one gang behind it all and, above that, just one main man.
Affleck does his usually, head down, mumbling through the scenes, routine, this does allow his on-screen wife, Tika Sumpter (“Ride Along 2”, “The Game (TV)”), to shine, along with his on-screen children. His performance does affect the tone of the movie though, each time he appears things slow, the atmosphere becomes one of drudgery, it’s the one sour point.
Spacek, Redford, Glover and Waits meanwhile are absolutely stunning, Spacek and Redford in particular shine like acting gods, together with the late seventies, early eighties setting and Lowery’s directing, The Old Man & The Gun is a triumph.
This is one of those stories where you feel absolutely fine rooting for the bad guy, or bad guys. Tucker loves what he does, even when he’s released after being caught (and he’s been caught many times before), he can’t stop.
He spots an armoured car whilst walking down the street with Jewel and can’t help but watch it longingly, before catching Jewel watching him and snapping out of his longing.
But this can’t last, Tucker just loves what he does, and Redford embodies that perfectly, and he must return to that which brings him so much joy.
The Old Man & The Gun is a superb movie, well written, deftly directed with actors that give it their all and bring performances that shine. It’s a movie you should watch, for it’s all true…mostly.
7th December 2018
THE QUICK SELL
Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.