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Review: Robert Redford's slick performance elevates 'The Old Man & the Gun'

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight 


Being billed as his last film before retirement, Robert Redford is singing his swan song as notorious bank robber Forrest Tucker in “The Old Man & the Gun.” Tucker was a member of the Over the Hill Gang who traveled around rural areas of the country - everywhere from Texas to Arkansas - and made out like bandits during the 1980s. The kicker being they’re all in their mid-seventies to early eighties.

Tucker has a thrill for these kind of things, and Redford amplifies those emotions and gentlemen like qualities. He’s also very smooth. Walking in, almost undetected, and quietly stealing thousands of dollars from unsuspecting banks. And because he’s a rascally ole’ geezer, it’s easier for him to give those looking for him the slip.

Among those on his trail is John Hunt (Casey Affleck - great) who was actually in a bank when Tucker robbed it, and is now leading the task force designed to stop his motley crew (featuring Danny Glover and Tom Waits in small, yet sharp, supporting roles).

An odd scenario whichever way you slice it, “Old Man” moves with a steady pace, though director David Lowery (“A Ghost Story”) tends to keep things routine towards the second half; the real fun lies in Redford, an actor born for these types of performances, and the schmaltzy romance that develops between his character and Jewel (Sissy Spacek). Redford and Spacek are two pros at the top of their game, and it’s nice to see them on screen together.

Even more fascinating is our titular character after we find out the other tricks and stories from his past that could easily occupy their own films: (Forrest is, I believe, the only man who successfully escaped from The San Quentin Penitentiary). All of those moments get their own unique bits, showcasing that Lowery knows and understands how “Old Man” is riffing off the bank robbing genre. Yet, in doing so, he evokes a truthfulness about finding passion in your own profession.

With that, “The Old Man & the Gun” soars with a blissful and dapper nature like your favorite afternoon drive. Helping matters is Redford knowing his character eloquently and making sure to keep a sly smile on his face during the home stretch. If this happens to be Redford's cheery ride into the sunset, he does so with style.

Grade: B+

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