The Old Man And The Gun

The Old man and the Gun

With effortless charm, breezy natural humour and a whole load of charisma, The Old Man and the Gun provides Robert Redford the ideal opportunity to bow out of the Hollywood limelight with grace and dignity. Purportedly his final role (though like his other octogenarian peer Clint Eastwood, I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes in the future), the film uses a real life subject to deconstruct Redford’s onscreen persona and create a mythic, almost iconic screen counterpart with which to remember him by.

Like very few films today, Old Man is more about tone and tempo than anything else. Peppered throughout with scenes of whimsical bank robberies, where Redford’s Forrest Tucker gracefully keeps his cool while talking his way to the bank vault or teller tills, the film isn’t interested in setups, chases or thrills but more invested in stories of the past, how people develop a relationship and what it means to be truly committed, nearly addicted, to doing what you do best. In some ways it sounds (and often unfolds) like an oddball combination of Heat (without the gritty toughness) meets Ocean’s Eleven (with a lot more emphasis on the jazziness and the cool aura).

Of course, where there are robbers there are cops, and chasing Tucker (and his small “Over the hill ” gang which includes a lookout and a getaway man) is Casey Affleck’s dutiful detective John Hunt, a devoted family man who is as obsessive about the chase as Tucker is about getting his next nicking fix. The film never rushes – it has an unhurried pace, a disarmingly pleasant vibe and a rather uncharacteristic restraint, not typical words you’d use to describe a film about cops and robbers. Such is director David Lowery’s majestic approach, him of the magnificent and hypnotic, little seen A Ghost Story and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Here too he turns the simple into fabled.

Redford is magnificent. Composed, impish but never without a twinkle in his eye. He doesn’t miss a beat and his chemistry with Sissy Spacek is divine – full of impulsive banter that is witty, crisp and seemingly without inhibition. Their scenes in fact offer the best moments in the film, even when they aren’t always talking, like the moment in a jewellery store, where a career robber with an impulse and a lady to please does exactly what you’d expect of him. The film has a sense of time and place (largely the 80’s) but its depiction of the era seems timeless, vintage, classical. How much of this story is true doesn’t matter by the time we reach the end because the film, instead of being about Tucker, becomes a vehicle by which to channel decades worth of Redford roles into a prism celebrating the various facets of his stardom and offering it to us as a gift.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Old Man & The Gun is out in UAE cinemas this Thursday, October 18.

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and