Talk about a way to retire.
A lot of legendary, Oscar-winning actors have retired on less than stellar films in the past. The last movie Marlon Brando appeared in was a subpar heist thriller called The Score. Sean Connery’s last outing was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (shuddering at the thought of that movie).
But Robert Redford? He’s going out with a bang.
From director David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete’s Dragon), The Old Man & The Gun is a new film quietly making its way into theaters and is said to be Redford’s final on-screen appearance before he retires.
Set in the 1980s and based off a (mostly) true story, Redford plays Forrest Tucker in The Old Man & The Gun — who is a 70-year-old character who really likes to steal things.
No, really, there’s no smile in the world that can parallel the one Tucker has on his face when he’s in the midst of robbing a bank. It’s what he’s good at, after all. He has been ever since he was a little kid, when he used to plan ways to steal bicycles and commit other petty crimes.
He’s been caught a number of times for stealing in the past, sure. He’s also determined to not really let that stop him, as he’s broken out of prison a total of sixteen times and could really care less whether or not the police are on to him.
Don’t let that fool you, though. Tucker might sound like a complete maniac, but he’s actually the kindest man you’ll ever meet.
Not in a phony way, either. He generally cares about people and will always make sure that nobody gets hurt in any way during any of robberies. It goes so far to the point where some of the bank tellers would even say that their interaction with Tucker was a pleasurable experience.
But then, as often happens, everything changes when he meets a girl.
Tucker has just finished pulling off his latest heist when he notices Jewel (Sissy Spacek) standing on the side of the road next to a broken down truck. Being the good guy he is — and also because he’s trying to lay low from the cops — Tucker pulls over and offers her a ride.
Sparks fly. Before long, they’re dating, and while that might sound all fine and well, it does force Tucker to confront his past and the consequences it might have on his future.
Consequences that are quickly closing in on him, too. While the law enforcement has generally seemed uninterested with Tucker in the past, local Texas cop Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) has uncovered a few leads righting him right to Forrest.
And what I love about this is the way that Lowery chooses to shoot the whole thing. Put The Old Man & The Gun in the hands of nearly any other director and this would be some kind of intense thriller in which Tucker is a psychopath who can only find joy in life when he’s committing crimes.
That’s not Lowery’s vision. There’s no huge gun-fights, no insane monologues or anything like that. He’s just telling the story in its own simplistic manner.
That’s not to say Tucker is romanticized into becoming a flat-out hero, because he isn’t. We see his short-comings time and again, and, without spoiling anything, the ending of The Old Man & The Gun certainly takes a stance on the whole topic.
Tucker is treated as a real-life person, though. Not just a person who’s given a tragic backstory that might explain why he’s turned to a life of crime, but a person who has his own independent thoughts, feelings and wants. We like Tucker not because we agree with what he’s doing, but because we feel the joy he so often emulates.
Lowery deserves credit for writing the character in such a way, but Redford also deserves credit for capturing it.
There’s early buzz that Redford might get an Oscar nomination for his role in The Old Man & The Gun. I don’t know if there’s any weight behind that or if it’s just a rumor due to the fact that he’s retiring, but I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with it. Without Redford, The Old Man & The Gun wouldn’t work the way it does. You need his charm, his stigma and reputation in order to sell this character. It’s great that he’s gotten to the point in life where he can retire and all, but, man, re-watching The Old Man & The Gun in the years to come is going to really make me miss all he brought to the screen.
The rest of the supporting cast is great, too. Putting personal problems aside with Casey Affleck, he’s great in this role and, once again, proves he works well with Lowery (seriously go check out A Ghost Story if you haven’t already seen it). The character maybe could have used a little more resolution at the end, but Affleck sells it all well.
Sissy Spacek is the other obvious standout, giving one of the best performances she has in a while. The character might not be written in the most compelling way imaginable, as she’s, unfortunately, kind of stuck to the sidelines for a lot of the movie, but Spacek brings her A-game and elevates the role to a whole other level.
The two who I wanted to see more from were Danny Glover and Tom Waits, both of whom play Tucker’s accomplices during the heist. I get that the movie is about Tucker, but the dynamic the three of them have together when on-screen is really entertaining to watch. Sadly, they aren’t in it all that much, even though the plot later tries to heavily revolve on something that happens in this group dynamic in a somewhat messy fashion.
Even so, The Old Man & The Gun is a nostalgic crowd pleasure that’s a great way to end a career. I may not be in love with the entire movie as much as I am with Redford’s performance here, but that performance alone is worth the price of admission.
Thank you, Robert Redford, for all the great movies you’ve given us through the years.
Watch the trailer for The Old Man & The Gun here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the movie!
'The Old Man & The Gun' - Thank you, Robert Redford [REVIEW]7