Movie Review: The Old Man and the Gun
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Director: David Lowery
by Jason Koenigsberg
What is allegedly the final acting appearance of screen legend Robert Redford The Old Man and the Gun is a fitting swan song about a man who loves what he does, even though what he does is robbing banks and frequently getting caught and escaping prison for most of his life. The Old Man and the Gun opens up telling us the film is based mostly on a true story and the first shot we see is the back of Redford’s head wearing an earpiece and a fedora indeed saying that he is an old man. The film takes place in 1981 predominantly in Texas but he robs banks throughout the midwest and California. Redford’s character named Forrest Tucker is a career criminal and loves what he does evading the authorities and living on the edge. Despite his age and love interest with a woman played by Sissy Spacek he seems to have no intention of slowing down
The main reason people are going to see this movie is because of Robert Redford and since this is his swan song he goes out with a strong and endearing performance. His smile has never been more engaging, wrinkles and all. His charms are in full effect and are what win over the characters and the audience in The Old Man and the Gun. This is a lighthearted jazzy riff of a movie that never takes itself too seriously with a piano based score that just allows the viewer to relax and enjoy the events on screen as they unfold. It has a retro classic feel that makes The Old Man and the Gun nostalgic for simpler times when names like Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, and Danny Glover were box office draws. There are some great dialogue scenes with Redford and Spacek at a diner and all of their scenes remind the audience how lucky we are to watch such icons share the screen together. Both Redford and Spacek have received an Academy Award and they won theirs on the same night, Redford got his Best Director Oscar for Ordinary People (1980), the same night Sissy Spacek took home her Best Actress statue for playing Loretta Lynne in The Coal Miner’s Daughter.
The other indelible moments from The Old Man and the Gun involve a cat and mouse game with Casey Affleck as a detective trying to nab Redford’s gentleman bandit. Redford goes around with two other senior citizen aged thieves played by Danny Glover and Tom Waits. Affleck labels them the Over the Hill Gang and Redford’s character playfully has fun with the name and the detective as he attempts to catch them on their trail. There is a scene that is one of the best in the film where Redford confronts Affleck in a mens room and it is an outstanding back and forth between two great minds conveyed by two terrific actors.
The final shot of the movie really sends the message home that we should do what we love until the day we die. Redford’s character Forrest Tucker is who he is and at this stage in his life he will not or cannot change. The Old Man and the Gun is about the fact that sometimes people are who they are, for better or for worse, and even though they keep making the same mistakes, they do not change or evolve because they are comfortable in their lives and do not know any other way to live. So many movies involve character arcs and revelations and going through changes. This is a movie about accepting people for who they are despite their flaws. Nobody learns anything, but maybe the viewer will learn something about themselves and accept their shortcomings as strengths.