According to what I’ve been hearing, Robert Redford says he’s retiring from acting, and “The Old Man & the Gun” is said to be his last role. If that’s so, then this is a great conclusion for him.
The movie is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (1920-2004), a career criminal, who has escaped from prison countless times, and robs banks casually. Definition: he wears a fake mustache, wears a hearing aid with a police transmission on it, acts polite towards the bank tellers and managers during his robberies, and just walks away. Redford portrays him with a certain kind of charm, ease, and flexibility that makes him Oscar-worthy.
The movie takes place in Dallas of 1981, and is based on a New Yorker article by David Grann. Writer/director David Lowery does a fantastic job bringing this story to life, and even Joe Anderson’s cinematography gives it an 70s-80s look. So if you watch the trailer on YouTube, there’s nothing wrong with the screen; that’s just how it’s supposed to look. Even the vintage cars match the tone and emphasis.
The star-studded cast also includes Sissy Spacek as Jewel, a widowed mother, who owns a horse ranch, and is impressed at how Tucker lives his life. She isn’t the typical girlfriend, who becomes appalled at the criminal’s career, and that’s cool by me. Casey Affleck also plays Detective John Hunt, who decides to go deeper in the crime spree, and meets Tucker’s abandoned daughter (Elisabeth Moss). Danny Glover and Tom Waits play Tucker’s partners-in-crime; while Tika Sumpter plays Hunt’s wife, who supports his goal of finding him.
“The Old Man & the Gun” looks and feels relaxing. There are no irritating lines, characters, or situations. It takes the casual tone, and allows Redford to steal the spotlight as Tucker. Affleck, losing his “Ghost Story” hairdo, is both calm and amazing as the main detective. And once his character finally meets the robber, then we’re really excited. And Spacek, whom I haven’t seen in years since “The Help,” is perfect as Jewel, because she’s sweet and sassy. These are the right people for the right roles.
And back to the whole casual robbery thing, I love how it eradicates the whole robbery cliche: the black masks, the F-bombs, and abusiveness. I know “Hell or High Water” was a provocative film, but the way Redford handles these scenes are just soothing, especially since he and his boys know when the time comes. You let them play “Ocean’s 11” with these banks, and no-one gets hurt.
Again, if this is Redford’s final acting job, then he closes himself with a big heart and a lot of fun. And I just love that timeline he gives about all the times he’s busted out of the joint, including San Quentin.