Geek Review: The Old Man And The Gun

Robert Redford has made a career out of his breezy onscreen charisma, taking what would in many cases be unlikable protagonists and turning them into the sorts of charming characters that commit crimes but you don’t mind because he seems so nice.

Redford had initially said The Old Man and the Gun would be his final movie, but he’s since changed his mind.  He’s another charming criminal type, so let’s see how that turned out.

Truthfully, if Redford for one reason or another doesn’t make another movie, this would be a fine one to go out on.

Redford stars as Forrest Tucker, a lifelong criminal who spends all his time seemingly robbing banks, going to jail, or breaking out of jail.  At this point in his life, it’s 1981 and he’s robbing banks, armed with a gun he generally only flashes at people.  Mostly he gets what he wants by being a very friendly, polite man who seems like a gentleman.  In fact, despite the title, there isn’t much if any violence in this movie.

On the other side of the law is Dallas Police Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck).  Hunt, having just turned 40, seems to be acting more like an old man than Tucker, but he sets his mind on catching Tucker and his two equally old associates (Tom Waits and Danny Glover) with a quiet determination of his own.  I would hesitate to call what happens between Tucker and Hunt a cat-and-mouse game because stories like that tend to involve the two characters crossing paths rather frequently.  That doesn’t really happen here, and Hunt may not be so much the guy out to get Tucker so much as he is the most public face for the large scale investigation into the old guy with the  visible hearing aid and sometimes two associates that have been robbing banks all over the place.

And through it all, Tucker romances a widow named Jewel (Sissy Spacek), someone he’s like to do nice things for but for various reasons can’t.

Tucker, as played by Redford, mostly seems like a old guy who only really enjoys life when he’s committing various crimes.  And the thing is, he doesn’t seem like a guy who really needs or wants the money.  The joy comes from committing the crime itself, not the payout.  He does show flashes of regret and sadness here and there, and the movie does a good job of illustrating the uglier side to his life choices with a single scene involving actress Elizabeth Moss.  But this is a man who mostly just wants to live a life he finds fun the only way he knows how.  It makes for an interesting character study, and there aren’t really any slouches among the cast in this one.  Most of that character work goes to either Redford or Affleck, but the result is a fine movie that can stand alongside Redford’s best.  9.5 out of 10 fake mustaches.


Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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