Robert Redford has had a hugely celebrated career. From ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’ to ‘Out of Africa’, ‘Ordinary People’ to ‘All the Presidents Men’, he has been a staple of American cinema for almost six decades. Now however, he hangs up the towel in his final film before his retirement, The Old Man & the Gun. Reminiscent of a classic crime comedy caper, the film is a beautifully warm and charming affair that is a fitting tribute to the legend’s illustrious career.
Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a real-life career criminal and prison escape artist who is remembered for having escaped from prison 18 times in his life. Having been first imprisoned when he was just 15, he went on to spend his entire life in and out of jail as he continued to refuse to obey societies laws. We join Forrest after his 16th escape, and very quickly he turns back to bank robbery. However, he might not get away with it as Detective John Hunt is on his case.
This film is a beautiful tribute to Redford and his longstanding career. The film’s key message is to live life to its fullest and to never give up on doing what you love (even if the film is not necessarily advocating the message in the right way). At one point, Redford is asked why he doesn’t make a proper living for himself, to which he replies “I’m not talking about making a living. I’m just living”. It’s great fun to see the 82-year-old actor having such fun on screen, and his cheeky but kind character style is utterly charming.
Accompanying Redford are a whole host of great actors, including Danny Glover and Tom Waits as his ageing sidekicks, Sissy Spacek as his love interest and importantly Casey Affleck as Detective John Hunt. It should be said that some of Casey’s dialogue is a little too mumbled and his character does lack enough personality to stand up against Redford’s charm. However, he does still get some fun moments, especially when he decides to let his kids help with the investigation.
The movie is shot on film and is utterly beautiful to look at. The film grain and dust specs that accompany it give the appearance that the movie is straight from the 1980’s. In fact, it’s clear this was the style director David Lowery was going for, as the jazzy music style and slick editing are reminiscent of the classic crime capers like ‘Sting’ and ‘Smokey and The Bandit’.
Overall, The Old Man & the Gun is a wonderfully charming film, with soft, lighthearted humour being used to glide the story along. It creates a very entertaining tone which is aided by a great score and beautiful cinematography. Most importantly, it is a fitting tribute to a Hollywood Legend, who’s incredible career will be remembered for decades to come.