The Old Man and the Gun movie review

Even though Robert Redford has been acting for nearly sixty years, it’s only recently that I’ve appreciated the impact that he’s had on cinema as a whole.  He began his illustrious career by traveling to New York City and finding work on Broadway in the late 1950’s. Soon after, he made the transition to television by appearing as the character Jimmy Coleman on the show Maverick. For many years, Redford went from one small role to another until the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made him a household name. Since then he’s been known a very suave, talented actor who has starred in critically acclaimed films such as The Sting, The Natural, and All the President’s Men. More recently he’s also taken up the position of director by using his skills and crafting the films: Quiz Show, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and The Conspirator. Now he’s calling it quits and starring in his last and final film The Old Man & the Gun.

Based on true events that took place in the early 1980’s, Robert Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a serial bank robber, and prison escape artist. One day after a robbery, he comes across a woman named Jewel (Sissy Spacek) who is broken down on the side of the road. He helps her out and this chance meeting quickly develops into a friendship. At the same time, detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) begins to notice a pattern of bank robberies that feature an older man who is extremely polite and charming. Through careful inspection, he begins to narrow down the suspects while Forrest continues to plunder banks and court his new love interest.

Even though this film doesn’t feature intense and harrowing bank robberies (such as the ones seen in the films Heat, The Town, or Point Break), it instead gets away with more subdued yet entertaining heists that dazzle with pure charisma. Robert Redford is a pure joy to watch and you continually root for his character despite the criminal acts he frequently performs.  This is a character examination through and through and during the course of the film, you slowly uncover how insane Forrest’s real-life truly was. In addition, you begin to realize how much robbing banks became an overwhelming obsession for the man; an obsession similar to the likes of gambling or performing daredevil stunts.

On a different note, while the cinematography may be lacking significant visual flair or uniqueness, it’s still worth mentioning how completely calming and restrained it appears to be. It’s a style that works fantastically with the overall subject matter and perfectly marries Robert Redford character’s to the overall charm that he exudes.

Although the film digs slightly into Forrest’s past, one addition that I would have preferred is more time focused on who he was while growing up and going in and out of the prison system. There is a very good montage that covers some of these elements but I would have liked it expanded into several full-length scenes instead. Forrest’s entire life was so unbelievable and fascinating that I feel it would easily merit more time to cover specific past events.

If you go into this film thinking it’s Ocean’s Eleven then you’ll be sadly disappointed. While it does borrow the overall charisma, the pacing and character development is on a completely different level. However, The Old Man and the Gun is a sweet and engrossing heist film that delves into the life of one of the most prolific American bank robbers with tons of heart and grace.

About The Old Man and the Gun

Synopsis: 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.

Director: David Lowery

Writers: David Lowery, David Grann

Stars: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes