Movie review: The Old Man & the Gun
The Old Man & The Gun— Running Time: 1:33 — Rating: PG-13
“The Old Man & The Gun” is quiet, slow and questionable. The main reason to go is to salute Robert Redford by seeing his final film. Now, however, Redford has announced in a recent interview that he had such fun making this one that he may well change his mind about retiring. Whether you decide to go should depend on how you feel about this movie actor who has given us great pleasure over the decades. Without him, this movie wouldn’t last long.
We are presented with Forrest Tucker (yes, Robert Redford), a man possessed by a dream. He has found his life’s pleasure, excitement and challenge in robbing banks. Now and then he serves a jail term when caught but that doesn’t dim the fun of planning his heists.
He has created his holdups artistically. With the good looks of a fit older man dressed in a business suit, he enters a bank, quietly reveals the unloaded pistol in his jacket and asks politely for the money in the teller’s drawer. What Redford does so well is to convey not just the calm of the thief but his quiet, deep pleasure in the theft. This is one man who loves his work. When he leaves the bank with a box full of cash, he wears a very gentle smile. He did it again.
The movie’s many subtleties may well be pleasure for the elders among us, but will young people love it? No one will ever hear Redford raise his voice. When he sees Jewel (a very fine Sissy Spacek) trying to fix her broken car by the roadside, he pulls over to create with her a lovely first meeting that you may have to be older to appreciate. The acceptance by each of the other’s eccentricities makes young courtship look foolish. The few scenes where they share their affection are beautifully done.
We have met a man whose pleasure comes from escaping and outwitting police and prisons. He’s done just that many times, and as we watch him when he’s quiet, we know he’s planning his next heist. This is the perfect part for Redford. The bank robber hasn’t a false or fake note in him; he just loves what he does. But it’s repetitious and slow. If you can handle that, both Redford and Spacek win us over with warm performances. Those of us old enough to remember their old days will probably like it more than those who are very young.
Seeing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” with my whole family years ago is an enduring memory for me. All ages of us loved it. In “The Old Man & The Gun” we love Redford for not trying make himself look younger than he is. If you’re feeling sentimental, you may appreciate the gentle old bank robber who loves his work. If not, you might find the movie interminably slow.
— Reviewed by Joan Ellis