Director: David Lowery
Starring: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Sissy Spacek
Run Time: 93 mins
If The Old Man And The Gun is indeed Robert Redford’s swansong, it will be a very good note to go out on. This is an entertaining heist film based on a true story that poses some interesting questions yet deconstructs the generic constructs of the hist film with Redford’s portrayal of an older-aged bank robber with manners, Forrest Tucker, who is oddly charming, feel-good and unthreatening. After escaping prison for the umpteenth time, Tucker conducts an unprecedented amount of heists with an equally older-aged crew whilst Casey Affleck’s rookie family-man detective is hot on his tail. However, he also meets a new companion, Sissy Spacek’s peaceful horse rancher.
David Lowery’s film is a mature and oddly elegiac study into the psyche of the criminal, as he interrogates existential themes of a man who cannot not commit criminal acts as it makes him tick. Redford’s robber doesn’t know a life other than the one he has lived and despite finding a love interest, cannot settle. Lowery’s film is also consistently comedic, with many laughs to be had despite this being a serious subject.
The performances are uniformly excellent with Robert Redford being the standout, with his seductive but low-key and charming performance. Redford has some strong support from Sissy Spacek and their relationship is maturely portrayed on-screen. Danny Glover and Tom Waits are also excellent as members of Redford’s gang, with Waits getting a satisfying speech mid-way through the film.
Visually, The Old Man And The Gun looks sharp, with some great cinematography from Joe Anderson, who constructs some memorable shots. David Lowery’s regular composer Daniel Hart’s score is also fitting with the film, using jazz to create a soothing mood.
Overall, The Old Man And The Gun is a fine note for Redford to go out on (should this be his last role which he has alluded to) and for the most part, is an entertaining and original heist film. The amiable tone it sustains throughout is impressive and it makes for a satisfying tonic to the more gritty, thrilling aspects of the conventional heist film, yet revels in nostalgia to older 70’s heist films, mirroring the younger Robert Redford’s then-burgeoning career. I haven’t always been a fan of Lowery’s filmography but I really liked The Old Man And The Gun and it’s a film that has the potential to further develop on rewatches.