In Review

The Old Man & the Gun

4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars - 'Smashing'
Director: David Lowery
Writers: David Lowery, David Grann (based on the New Yorker article by)
Stars: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek
PG-13 | 1h 33min | Comedy , Crime , Drama | 2018 (Greece)
Review by

The Old Man & the Gun is a sweet film, based on the true story of serial bank robber Forrest Tucker. David Grann’s article about Tucker appeared in The New Yorker in 2003 and is the inspiration for the movie. Grann describes Tucker as “one of the most notorious stickup men of the 20th century.”

Robert Redford is perfect in the role of Tucker – soft spoken, crafty and cordial. One prison official said he had never met such a gracious criminal. Grann quotes a juror as saying about Tucker: “You got to hand it to the guy – he’s got style.”

David Lowery wrote and directed this enjoyable period piece. Danny Glover (Teddy) and Tom Waits (Waller) complete the trio of elderly bank robbers who operate in such a low-key style in state after state that hardly anyone notices them, for years.

Casey Affleck plays detective John Hunt, who starts to admire Forrest Tucker, indeed becomes captivated by Tucker’s commitment to his craft, pulling off bank heists as a way of life. And Tika Sumpter shines as detective Hunt’s wife Maureen, sympathetic to her husband’s angst about turning 40.

Born in 1920, Tucker was in trouble with the law by the time he was 15. David Grann interviewed him in a Fort Worth prison hospital when he was 81, and Tucker pointed out that he had broken out of prison 18 times, and had tried to escape confinement another 12 times.

Film Review: The Old Man & the Gun
Robert Redford as “Forrest Tucker” and Sissy Spacek as “Jewel” in the film THE OLD MAN & THE GUN. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

What really impressed Grann was that the aging escape artist actually was casing the prison for possible escape routes even as the journalist was interviewing him.

Contrary to rumor, this is not going to be Robert Redford’s last performance. However, he has created such an impressive body of work that the Forrest Tucker character in The Old Man and The Gun feels like a tribute to all that has gone before in his career.

What really impressed Grann was that the aging escape artist actually was casing the prison for possible escape routes even as the journalist was interviewing him.

Redford’s work in War Hunt in 1962, Inside Daisy Clover in 1965 and Tell Them Willie Boy is Here in 1969 gave us previews of his developing talent and political awareness. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), both with Paul Newman, cemented his popularity. With Jeremiah Johnson in 1972, Three Days of the Condor in 1975 and All the President’s Men in 1976, he attracted audiences with his range and depth. The Electric Horseman in 1979, Brubaker in 1980, and The Company You Keep in 2012 are three of my favorites. In Havana (1990), we saw Redford as an actor comfortable in his senior skin as he transitioned from handsome leading man to character-driven roles.

Official Trailer: The Old Man & the Gun

A whimsical and nostalgic film, The Old Man & the Gun takes us back to a time before computers and omnipresent surveillance cameras. A little understatement in approach and a disciplined coordination of effort could net you $5,000 in cash without a bullet flying anywhere, especially when the robber tipped his hat and said “thank you.” Getaway cars still had to be fast, but the highways were a lot less crowded.

A whimsical and nostalgic film, The Old Man & the Gun takes us back to a time before computers and omnipresent surveillance cameras.

A truly pleasurable account of Forrest Tucker’s unusual career. With Robert Redford’s nicely textured depiction of this colorful lawbreaker, we have no trouble understanding how police detective Hunt was able to develop an admiration for him, even as the FBI was closing in.

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Jeanne Powell
Jeanne is a published poet and essayist. She holds degrees from Wayne State University and the University of San Francisco. Jeanne has taught in the CS, UB and OLLI programs at universities in the City. Her books in print include MY OWN SILENCE and WORD DANCING from Taurean Horn Press.