The Old Man & the Gun
It was hard to resist the emotions flowing from saying goodbye to the legendary Robert Redford.
If this film is Robert Redford’s swan song, it would be a fitting way to say goodbye to his many fans and admirers. He just turned 81, and he has left us with a catalog of brilliant films ranging from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), a favorite on my Redford movie list, The Sting (1974), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), All The President’s Men (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Brubaker (1980), Natural (1984), and his recent films All Is Lost and A Walk In The Woods. Who else in the history of Hollywood has compiled such a rich biography?
Based on a true story, here Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a veteran bank robber who has escaped from numerous prisons across our country. You soon discover that while many aging men look to play golf in their free time, Tucker wants to do nothing more than cross our country and rob any available bank. He does so with two other aging gentlemen known as the “Over the Hill Gang”. Danny Glover (71) and Tom Waits (68) play his two conspirators, and they add both charm and humor to the film.
While Tucker has a reputation as being a friendly, affable robber, his personal life is a complete mess. Separated from his wife and family when he was in prison at a young age, he never bothered to contact them again after he obtained his freedom. Redford’s Tucker is a lonely, affable gentlemen who choses to define himself by doing his best to charm his robbery victims.
Nonetheless, the strength of the film flows from the performances of Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck. Ms. Spacek plays a widow who lives on a farm she can barely afford with three horses, and she develops an arm’s length relationship with Redford that warms the entire film. As an example, when Redford tells her on her home porch that he has never ridden a horse, he adds that it is on his To Do list. Ms. Spacek, drinking some tea, looks at her aging friend and cryptically responds, “I’d get on that pretty quick if I was you!” As seen in The Straight Story (1999), she is a 68 year old actress who adds grace to small films.
Mr. Affleck comes off his Oscar winning performance in Manchester By the Sea with a performance as detective John Hunt, a married man who becomes fascinated with Tucker as he pursues him. While he clearly knows that sooner or later Tucker will have to return to jail, he can’t help but hold a bit of admiration for this aging rogue.
As the lights came on in the theater as the movie ended, I looked around at a crowd of approximately 25 people. While I am 71, I started laughing as I concluded that I was the youngest person in the theater! Keep that in mind, as a subtitle of the movie could very well be An Old Man & the Gun: Watched by a Bunch of Old Men in the Theater!