The Old Man and the Gun
Robert Redford claims this is the last movie he’ll star in. It’s nice that he’s going to take the bad taste out of our mouth that he left with that boring All is Lost. Yet it worried me that his movie is with director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Body Saints). Lowery gave us one of the weirdest, and slowest, ghost movies ever with A Ghost Story last year. He brought Casey Affleck (who merely had a white sheet over his head for most of that movie), and here he just mopes around acting tired and sad. I’m not really sure why. Early on, we see the other cops bring him a birthday cake for his 40th. Is it an age thing? Who knows, because the movie never really gives us his backstory. All we really learn about him is he seems like a decent husband to his wife, and an okay father to his two kids.
Redford is 82-years-old, and the real-life bank robber he’s playing — Forrest Tucker — was also in his twilight years while still leading a life of crime. Instead of Lowery making a movie about a more interesting time in his life (for example, the time he busted out of San Quentin with a few inmates, on a raft they made with the painted name “Rub-a-Dub-Dub” on the side), we get to see him have coffee and pie with Sissy Spacek. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They have great chemistry and it’s delightful watching these two actors I’ve loved. Although it did sort of bother me that we’re supposed to be rooting for a guy that’s a career criminal. That’s a pet peeve of mine with crime movies. Now, I don’t fault audiences for falling for these guys. Hell, his going in style crew consists of Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) and former San Diegan singer Tom Waits (who is always fun to watch on screen). In fact, Waits tells a story about his crime spree as a teenager with a new stepfather that was a cop, that might be one of the funniest stories you’ll hear all year.
So, Tucker has escaped prison multiple times. He’s back to robbing banks, and wooing Spacek. Now he has a Texas cop (Affleck) on his tail. They’re fond of leaving messages for each other on 100 dollar bills (although, if the cop does that…doesn’t that mean he’s stealing evidence from a crime scene?).
Nothing about the bank robberies are that spectacular. We see the crew planning them out, but they don’t appear to be that elaborate in their execution. It’s implied that Tucker gets away with it because he’s calm, cool, and collected; and perhaps people aren’t as threatened by a bunch of old coots holding up the joint.
Maybe we just like Tucker more because he’s played by Redford, and we loved him in The Sting, Butch Cassidy, etc. (some of those movies are used in flashback clips, to show the younger Tucker). Who wouldn’t love a debonairly dressed old-timer with a snazzy hat and that smile?
There’s a nice, jazzy score by Daniel Hart, although a few times the music reminded me of how we felt when we heard the score in Driving Miss Daisy. A few scenes just shouldn’t have had the whimsical music.
The picture is shot in grainy 16mm film stock that gives the movie a ‘70s feel, which is interesting.
The problem is that there’s just no suspense or conflicts. That doesn’t mean it’s not a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half. It’s just a bit underwhelming.
2 ½ stars out of 5.