The Old Man and the Gun

Year: 2018
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery
Cast: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter, John David Washington

A lot was made of this movie when it came out because of the kerfuffle star Redford caused when he said he was retiring from acting, and this would be his last gig. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a marketing scheme cooked up between he and financier Fox Searchlight, because the edit director David Lowery (from his own script, based on a New Yorker article) has turned in is dreadfully middle of the road. A lot like another recent Redford movie, A Walk in the Woods, it feels like it wants to be a plodding, downhome tale you'd hear sitting on a porch in a summer evening, careful not to offend anyone or get too racy.

It's also a case of the idea being much better than the execution. The story of a wily old bank robber who's unfailingly polite and never threatening or violent is a pretty good backbone for a story, but the script doesn't feel like it knows quite where to go with it. Although based on a true story, it's just as likely the real Forrest Tucker did all the things the film depicts him doing but his story is more scattershot – like real life – rather than cinematic.

We meet Tucker (Redford) having committed his last heist while barely breaking his stride when he stops by the side of the road to help a woman who's truck has broken down, Jewel (Sissy Spacek). The two hit it off and enjoy a flirtatious but age-appropriate lunch at a nearby diner, Tucker liking her so much he almost wants to come clean about his life of crime.

But with his two equally grizzled accomplices (Danny Glover and Tom Waits), he keeps at it, setting up and committing so many robberies across the American panhandle he gets the attention of local cop Hunt (Casey Affleck), who starts to put the pieces together and get a picture of the man who's trail he's on.

From there is just goes a bit all over the place. There's nothing wrong with a bit of backstory, but when Tucker reveals the truth of his life to Jewel including the fact that he's escaped prison 16 times, it felt like one big movie idea too much when we were already just concentrating on an elderly guy who uses polite charm to rob banks.

There's a whole other side about how he was accused of firing upon police during a chase years back which he claims was his car backfiring, the veiled implication that one of his friends has given him up, and Jewel's curiously forgiving nature, not even raising her voice about the lies the man she's grown so fond of has told her, or the fact that he's now going away for what might be a long time when she's just started having feelings for him. Even worse, Tucker's final act seems to confirm that as close as he's become to Jewel, he chooses his former life over her. it all just comes off a bit... sad.

Redford is effortlessly good, but he never has to try really hard anymore. Spacek looks like she's having such a nice time it bleeds into her performance to a fault – making her sparkier and happier than any real person would probably be in her shoes.

Affleck gives it his drama/thriller-level 100 percent, but he seems to be in a different movie from everyone else. This one is breezy, likeable (a bit too much so) and unchallenging.

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