“So what is it you said you do?” asks Jewel (Sissy Spacek). “Oh, that’s a secret,” answers Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford). “Why is that?” asks Jewel, curiosity piqued. “Because if I told you, you probably wouldn’t want to see me again,” replies Tucker, a career bank robber, in Redford’s final film as an actor, The Old Man & the Gun.
The 2018 film follows the crimes of Forrest Tucker, a life-long bank robber now in his 70s who still lives for the thrill and fun of planning, casing, and robbing banks. While attempting to avoid the police after a heist, Tucker comes across Jewel stranded on the side of the freeway with her broken-down car.
Tucker pulls over and offers to help, using the guise of pretending to be a good Samaritan to blend in. It works as he’s bending over looking at her engine while three police cars speed by. Afterward, Tucker gives Jewel a lift to get her car taken care of and the two new friends have lunch together at a nearby diner.
Tucker has two partners he works with on certain robberies (usually bigger ones) named Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits). The police have fittingly nicknamed the elderly bank robbing trio the “Over the Hill Gang.” One detective in particular, John Hunt (Casey Affleck), becomes caught up in the hunt for Tucker. He almost admires the senior for the way he methodically plans out the heists and how he’s so pleasant and reassuring to those he robs. The bank managers and tellers all describe to the authorities how nice and charming he is during robberies. He even comforted one young teller when she started to cry, telling her she didn’t need to be scared and praising her for being good at her job.
Determined to bring Tucker to justice, Hunt spends all of his time researching and talking to anyone who ever had contact with the robber. After one of the bank heists, the press interviews Hunt who admits that although they have a whole department on the case he would like to put the cuffs on Tucker himself. Tucker’s watching the interview on TV in his motel room and accepts the challenge. On his next successful bank heist, he leaves a note for Hunt: “To John Hunt – Good Luck – The Over the Hill Gang.”
Based mostly on a true story, The Old Man & the Gun is a charming, laid-back, and leisurely paced film with a great cast and strong writing. Robert Redford delivers another memorable performance as Forrest Tucker, the smart, cocky, and likeable career bank robber who even in his 70s still craves the thrill and danger of pulling off heists. Redford displays perfectly the amiable nature of Tucker, completely selling the idea that all of his “victims” compliment him to the police and rave about his pleasant personality. If this is Redford’s final performance in films, it’s a worthy ending to a great career.
Casey Affleck delivers an effective, low-key performance as Hunt, the detective chasing Tucker who finds himself inspired, motivated, and captivated for the first time in his career by the old outlaw. He’s a cop caught up in the thrill of the chase and almost doesn’t want it to end.
Sissy Spacek is solid as Jewel, Tucker’s new lady friend who finds him so interesting that when she finally discovers the truth about Tucker, she finds herself conflicted about what to do.
The Old Man & the Gun is an engaging, satisfyingly mellow, and entertaining movie sure to make the list of Redford’s best films.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes
Release Date: September 28, 2018