The Old Man & the Gun Reviews
Written and directed by David Lowery, and originally touted as Robert Redford's final performance, although he has walked that claim back somewhat, The Old Man & the Gun is a laid-back ballad-like elegy filmed in the style of a 1970's indie.
Based on David Grann's 2003 New Yorker article, the film tells the "mostly true" story of prolific bank robber and prison escapee Forrest Tucker (Redford) who had been robbing banks since his early 20s. The story takes place in 1981, when Tucker was 61 (although in the film, he's 76), and had recently escaped from San Quentin. Meeting a widow named Jewel (Sissy Spacek), after pulling off a job, they strike up a tentative romance. Meanwhile, he is pursued by Det. John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who is starting to respect him more and more.
The first thing you'll notice about Old Man is its pace, which is measured, to say the least. Ostensibly, this is a heist film, but the crime narrative is very much secondary to tone and character beats, with Lowery relatively uninterested in excitement, suspense, plot twists, or any of the usual generic tropes. And that's not a criticism. Rather, the meditative pace is one of the film's charms. Additionally, Lowery almost completely ignores what, for many, would be the most interesting part of Tucker's story - the 18 prison escapes. Instead, he puts them all together into one montage.
Instead, Lowery's goal is to create an ode to an icon, and that icon is Robert Redford. Tucker's story is a vehicle which Lowery uses to celebrate Redford; the character is always there, but he exists behind the actor, rather than the other way around. Indeed, during the escape montage, there's even a clip of Redford from another film, The Chase (1966). We can never look past the fact that Tucker is played by Redford, and for the most part, Redford is playing Redford, with the film existing in large part only because it explicitly leans on his back catalogue and real-life legacy. Essentially, the whole thing is an extended metatextual allegory for Redford's own impending retirement, not to mention his reluctance to let go.
As one would expect from Lowery, the film is aesthetically fascinating. Shooting on Super 16, Lowery wanted the film to look like it had been made in the period in which it was set, trying to suture the viewer into the past. Another important aesthetic point is how much Lowery has obviously been influenced by Michael Mann, to whom there are several homages - a scene in a diner recalls a similarly shot scene in Thief (1981); the scene where Hunt approaches Tucker is an obvious nod to Al Pacino confronting Robert De Niro in Heat (1995); and the scene of Tucker gaining inspiration whilst sitting in a cinema recalls a scene in Public Enemies (2009).
In terms of problems, there are a few. If you're not a fan of Redford's, for example, you will get very little from this. Lowery also has a strange habit of introducing themes which seem to be setting something up, only to completely abandon them without any kind of engagement. This is most obvious in relation to Hunt's inter-racial marriage to Maureen (Tika Sumpter) and their two mixed-race children. This is a fictional element added by Lowery, so one assumes there was some thought behind it. But this is Texas in 1981; there wouldn't have been a huge amount of mixed marriages. Yet Lowery seems to portray it as if it's the most normal thing in the world. Indeed, for the wife and children, life is fairly idyllic, with not a hint of any kind of societal disapproval. Why would you introduce a mixed-race marriage into this milieu without commenting on it?
These few issues aside, however, The Old Man & the Gun is a fine film. As much about Robert Redford as it is Forrest Tucker, although it won't appeal to everyone, there is much to praise. Made in a key so low, it's practically subterranean, Lowery hinges everything on Redford's presence, and, for the most part, it works well. There's little to get overly excited about, but neither is there much to criticise. Yes, the film is somewhat insubstantial, and there's virtually nothing here beyond the Redford/Tucker character, but it's still beautifully made, and, honestly, there's nothing wrong with spending 93 minutes hanging out with Redford, whether he's playing Forrest Tucker or Robert Redford. Whether or not this is actually his last performance remains to be seen, but if it is, it's as fine a send-off as any Hollywood icon could hope for.
Robert Redford's movie is lovely if overly sentimental stuff. It has a leisurely pace to match the leisurely fashion of the robbers. This isn't really a heist movie, more an existential tale about a man who can't accept the passing of time.
Redford gives a poignant performance. And Casey Affleck co-stars in a low-key, sometimes comic role. It looks and feels old-fashioned, and that's no bad thing.
Not a movie you would say was action pack with gun fights and fast chase scenes, but certainly was a entertaining movie that had a good story line as well as good acting from Robert Redford, it is a genuinely slow movie but all in all it was a great movie to watch
I dig the cast here. Man, Redford, Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover and Tom Waits - that's quite a crew! It's fun to see elder films of Redfords filography in this one - a sweet little gesture.
This anti-hero of a man and his story feels genuine and is told pretty good. Straight forward, nothing special, but it works. Cool music and a rather short playtime helps. Actually it felt a bit short - but then the epilogue got on and it felt too long. I guess the "then and there" story was a bit rushed in the climax scene, but in total I guess it was all right.
A cool story, that was executed in an OK manner. Not a bummer, not a total hit. It's known to be Redford's last on camera. Thank you for the many great films, Sir!
6.5 out of 10 hearing aids.