By Steven Sheehan.
Robert Redford brings an illustrious career to a close with his last ever acting role in The Old Man & the Gun.
At 82-years-old you can hardly blame him. He’s an actor who has achieved almost everything you can imagine since landing his first TV spot in 1960.
His last performance serves as the perfect curtain call and a metaphor of sorts about a man who has spent a lifetime doing what he loves the most.
The film is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker. He was a career criminal who broke out of prison 18 times while continually robbing banks, stealing an estimated $4million in the process.
The way director David Lowery tells the story it was less greed and more the thrill of it he enjoyed. Most of the robberies took place in and around the Texas region.
Set in the early 80s, Redford plays Tucker, who strolls calmly in banks, before walking out armed with bundles of cash. No-one is harmed, and when the police arrive we hear tellers and bank managers describe him as a gentleman.
He’s helped along with two accomplices played by Tom Waits and Danny Glover. Hot on his trail is Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) who is determined to track him down.
A life spent in and out of prison has made Tucker something of a loner. That is until he strikes up a friendship/relationship with Jewel (Sissy Spacek), who falls for his charms while remaining suspicious of him.
The Old Man & the Gun remains a genial affair, following the lives of both Det. Hunt and Forrest. It is also something of a surface level procedural, although we only see small details of Hunt’s investigation.
Shot using grainy 35mm, the film is not only set in the 80s but also has an old-fashioned aesthetic. There is a sincerity about the way it is told and has a welcoming veneer that makes it enjoyable, if somewhat easily forgettable.
There are quite a few nods to Redford’s past scattered throughout. And a clip of the young, fresh-faced actor appears when looking back on Tucker’s multiple prison escapes.
A warm jazz score helps create the relaxed atmosphere and plenty of time is spent with Redford and Spacek as they sit back and contemplate about life and their place in it.
Redford is as effortless as always, bringing the sort of charm and swagger that has characterised his entire career. Affleck’s Hunt oddly seems to be permanently depressed, even though he has a beautiful wife and two kids who dote on him.
Spacek adds some depth to a rather sparse role. The rest of the characters feel relatively underwritten, and we even see Elisabeth Moss, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and John David Washington make brief appearances.
The Old Man & the Gun will be on the fringes of the awards discussions over the coming months. It’s more Oscar-lite than Oscar-bait. This is the sort of film happy to glide along without leaving much of a footprint behind.
The Old Man & the Gun opens nationwide in UK cinemas on Friday 7th December.