Update: The release date of The Old Man & the Gun was pushed back from Oct. 12 to Oct. 19 after this story went to press.
The Old Man & the Gun
Opening Friday, Oct. 19
Word around Hollywood is that Robert Redford’s new movie, The Old Man & The Gun, will be his last—as an actor, anyway. If so, it’s a pretty sweet way to go out. By playing the real-life seventy-something bank robber Forrest Tucker, Redford brings his charming outlaw persona full circle, closing the circuit on his most famous roles in The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
This is Redford’s best movie in a decade, easy, and it’s a role that’s tailored for him down to the atomic level. Tucker is a gentleman bandit, leader of the self-styled “Over the Hill Gang,” with buddies-in-crime Tom Waits and—inevitably, somehow—Danny “I’m getting too old for this shit” Glover. Tucker robs banks, but he does so with such easy affability that his victims are left with a vague feeling of admiration.
Sissy Spacek plays lonely farm-widow Jewel, who also falls under Tucker’s charismatic spell. But Jewel is no dummy, and the veteran actors cultivate a subtle, lovely dynamic. It’s a pleasure just to watch these two talk in a diner.
On the other side of the law, Casey Affleck plays Texas cop John Hunt, who is obliged to hunt down Tucker. Affleck, as usual, is the most interesting thing in the movie, and he matches Redford beat for charismatic beat (with an eighties cop mustache, no less).
Director David Lowery (A Ghost Story) makes an interesting visual choice by filming everything in the faded and gritty Super 16 format. This simple technique works quiet miracles, blunting the glare of Redford’s polished movie-star sheen. The temptation to glamorize Redford must have been powerful, if this is indeed his last movie. But Lowery chooses to serve the story over the star, and it makes all the difference.
If for no other reason, Old Man is worth chasing down just to experience a Tom Waits monologue about Christmas, guns, and stepfathers. There’s a whole other movie in that story. Can someone follow up, please?