Thanks to EntertainmentOne Australia we got to see ‘The Old Man & the Gun’ before its Australian cinematic release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
With a cinematic career spanning nearly 60 years, Robert Redford‘s starring role in The Old Man and the Gun is befitting and poignant. Playing the part of Forrest Tucker, an edgy elderly bank robber who, with Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits), make up the ‘Over the Hill Gang’, execute a string of bank heists that have the law confounded and the eye witnesses in bemused admiration. Redford seems to relish the role of Tucker, garnering decades of twinkling blue eyes and megawatt smile occassions, to portray the true-life daredevil based on David Grann‘s 2003 New Yorker article with the same title as the film. David Lowery does a splendid job as both writer and director, infusing the screen with a contemporary palette (Tucker’s 4 year robbery spree after escaping San Quention, one of 18 incidents, was between 1979-1983) and the script with witty dialogue. Waller’s Christmas anecdote to Tucker and Teddy is a small gem of pure dark humour. Daniel Hart‘s jazzy pieces heighten the comical cat-and-mouse displays; giving a cheeky rhythm to each scene, much as Sanchez‘s drum sequences in the 2014 movie Birdman did.
The onscreen chemistry between Redford and Sissy Spacek appears effortless. Spacek plays Jewel, the widowed mother who appears content on her farm of horses, until her truck breaks down and Tucker gives her a lift, in more ways than one. Tucker cloaks himself in mystery, despite Jewel’s innocent questioning. There are moments of ambiguity when Jewel may very well have worked out her enigmatic beau’s goings-on, but her growing love for him seems to supercede that. Casey Affleck fills the shoes of the overworked, underpaid cop well. As Detective John Hunt, he struggles to keep his young family happy and secure, while trying to crack a golden case utilising years of investigative experience: that of the ‘Over the Hill Gang’. The subplot of Hunt’s supportive wife, Maureen (Tika Sumpter) parallels nicely with the growing romance between Tucker and Jewel. In fact, it’s the domestic minutiae of the film – smatterings of overheard conversations, eating meals, petty arguments, getting up for work, etc. – that lends a warmth and affability to The Old Man and the Gun as much as Redford does to the biographical character it’s based on.
As Redford’s final role I don’t see him getting an Oscar nomibation for this, yet this movie certainly pleased me as a cinema goer. Namely because of the person it’s based on; not so much a kleptomaniac (although, that is possible) but a person who lived life for the thrill of it all. As Tucker says to his lady, he’s not talking about making a living, but simply living ! In a world where most people work to pay rent/ mortgae and taxes, it’s entertaining to see someone give the rat race and the banks the finger, not with it on the trigger of a gun, but pointing towards the horizon’s next adventure.
And the movie lover in me likes to think that when Forrest Tucker calmy awaits his final capture by police, sitting on one of Jewel’s horses at dawn, wrapped in a Native American blanket, it’s a nod to the Spaghetti Westerners of yesteryear like Clint Eastwood, another iconic actor and director recently retired. Exit stage left, Mr. Redford. Take your bow.