The Old Man & The Gun
Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits
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…a fantastic swan song for a great actor…
To say Robert Redford has had a bountiful career is as much of an understatement as saying ice is slightly chilly. From Butch Cassidy to the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby (aka the good version), to directing Ordinary People and Quiz Show among others and founding the independent powerhouse that is Sundance, even his more recent efforts like All Is Lost, he has created an enviable cinematic legacy. One that appears to be at its end, with this being touted as his final film role. Whether that ends up holding water remains to be seen, but under the attentive eye of writer/director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story), he has certainly decided to leave on one hell of a note.
Redford as the notorious robber and escape artist Forrest Tucker has him in highly energetic form. The level of grace and cheerful sophistication on display here is staggering, giving the wisened master of the trade an infectious energy that lets the dialogue sparkle off of his tongue.
Tom Waits and Danny Glover as his literal partners-in-crime make for not only a terrific triple-threat, but also truly ingenious casting. Waits has a reputation for a dry and morbid sense of humour in his music, which he utilises here to great effect, and Glover has basically embodied his pseudo-catchphrase of “I’m getting too old for this shit” over the last handful years. How appropriate that he would appear here, in a film all about the intersection of old stubbornness and young recklessness.
Lowery’s innate sense of methodical pacing proves itself an uncanny fit alongside a film that is itself about characters who meticulously plan out their work. The nimble yet moody pacing lets the rather subdued scenes of Forrest at work exude an aura of someone who has spent a long time getting good at what he does.
Whether it’s for the thrill of living on the edge or furthering a pattern of behaviour that has followed him since childhood, Forrest isn’t so much an old dog who can’t be taught new tricks as much as he is an old dog who doesn’t even need to.
And with the backing of some of Lowery’s warmest dialogue to date, he gives a depiction of aging gracefully that might be one of the most sorely needed nowadays. Not just because the writing is damn funny, or that the conversations between him and Sissy Spacek’s Jewel are heart-stirring. But because, in an age where Hollywood seems to see older actors solely as props for comedy (Dirty Grandpa, Last Vegas, Book Club), Redford shows that with age comes experience and knowledge. Enough knowledge to know that one’s dignity need not be sacrificed so readily.
The Old Man & His Gun serves as a fantastic swan song for a great actor, with Robert Redford finding a kindred spirit in a man who became a legendary master of his craft. Not only that, it serves as one of David Lowery’s finest works yet.