TIFF Review: The Old Man & the Gun
by Raquel Stecher
The Old Man & the Gun
dir. David Lowery
starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Casey Affleck, Elisabeth Moss
Say it isn’t so Robert Redford? This can’t be your last film! And if it is, what a way to go. Not with a whimper but with a bang!
With a nod to classic Hollywood filmmaking, The Old Man & the Gun is a superb final entry in Robert Redford’s legendary career and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. Redford stars as Forrest Tucker, if that’s his real name, a gentleman bank robber who charms tellers out of their money. Tucker has modus operandi has always been to show his target the gun but to never resort to using it. Over his many decades as a bank robber, Tucker has been arrested and released and arrested again. He’s even escaped from prison several times. For the bigger jobs, he employs two friends as his sidekicks Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits) whom the media refers to collectively as ‘The Over-the-Hill Gang”.
After one solo heist, Tucker meets Jewel (Sissy Spacek). She lives a quiet life on her sprawling ranch. Tucker is constantly on the move from one town to the next looking for his next target. He starts to entertain settling down but when police detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) sets his eyes on catching Tucker after being present and oblivious to one of his heists, Tucker finds himself on the run.
The Old Man & the Gun is like a tall glass of your favorite drink. Goes down easy and once you’re done you’re ready for round two. Set in the early 1980s, this film feels old school but is palatable for contemporary audiences. In an interview at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, director Lowery says he wanted the film to be of the era using the technology of its day. Robert Redford, who received a standing ovation at the international premiere, said he was drawn to the predator vs. prey element of the film.
Unlike your typical heist films, this one features little to no violence. The focus is on the characters, their relationships and the chase. It even features a homage to Redford with a look at Tucker’s storied career as a bank robber and inserts some footage from Redford’s previous movies into that retrospective. My only criticism of the film is that the Elisabeth Moss story line, she’s the daughter Tucker didn’t know he had, felt shoe-horned into the plot and didn’t seem necessary. I would recommend this film to anyone who loves Robert Redford and enjoys classic movies. Especially those viewers, like me, who are tired of excessive violence and want plain old good storytelling.
I attended the international premiere at the Elgin Theatre for The Old Man & the Gun during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.