You have to admire the audacity of a guy who discovers the only thing he’s good at is robbery – and decides to make it not only his life’s work but almost an art form.
And you couldn’t get a better actor than Robert Redford to portray the based-on-fact thief Forrest Tucker in David Lowery’s “The Old Man & the Gun.”
Tucker was a real-life robber who probably holds the American record for jailbreaks (“18 successful, 12 unsuccessful”), including a notable one from San Quentin. Born in 1920, Tucker began his criminal career at 15.
The secret to his success wasn’t the (always unloaded) gun he toted. It was his manner – polite, disarming, charming and – most important – persuasive.
Together with his two cohorts, Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits), the “Over-the-Hill Gang” pulled off numerous heists, but it was Tucker who charmed (and frightened) his way into one bag of money after another.
“The Old Man & the Gun” concentrates on the gang’s last few sprees in the early 1980s, before computers and digital everything changed the world.
Writer/Director David Lowery recognized the film possibilities when he read David Grann’s profile of Tucker in The New Yorker, and hired the only Hollywood actor for the part: Robert Redford, who at 82 still has the looks, manner and charm to pull it off.
Redford insisted that the film be fun because Tucker seemed to enjoy those heists so much. And fun it is.
But it’s not just fun. In attempting the perfect heist, Tucker also romances the only woman who could put up with his “profession” – Jewel, played flawlessly by Sissy Spacek.
Tucker also has a wonderful time foiling detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), a mere stripling of 40 who can’t keep up with these old pros.
Think Butch Cassidy. Think “All the President’s Men.” Think the baseball great in “The Natural.”
And then go see “The Old Man & the Gun,” which Redford says is his last film role. But he also says “Never say never,” so no occasion for tears just yet. Know that there’s at least this one new film to see and enjoy.
Recommended audience: Redford fans everywhere.
“The Old Man & the Gun” is now playing everywhere. Find locations and showtimes HERE.