Director: David Lowery
Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Sissy Spacek
Runtime: 1 hr 34 mins
Rating: PG13 (Brief Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 17 January 2019
Synopsis: THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (Academy Award winner Robert Redford), from his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Academy Award winner Casey Affleck), who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft, and a woman (Academy Award winner Sissy Spacek), who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.
It is interesting to see this biographical film written and directed by David Lowery alongside Clint Eastwood’s The Mule. The two films are released one week apart here in Singapore. Cinematic legend Eastwood, at a grand old age of 88, plays an elderly outlaw who transports cocaine for a drug cartel in his film. In Lowery’s latest work, the protagonist is a career criminal and prison escape artist. The role is portrayed by Robert Redford, another notable Hollywood marvel who is 82 years old.
These are two of cinema’s manliest figures, so all you young punks may want to stand aside while the granddaddies who us what they’ve got.
Based on David Grann's article of the same name in The New Yorker, this film shows us how Forrest Tucker, a man who manages to pull off a series of bank robberies. Instead of being a menace to the public, he becomes a charming figure instead, and almost enjoys the status of a celebrity. What’s more amusing about the criminal is how he has made one audacious escape after another from different prisons.
Oh wait, did we mention that he is someone old enough to be a great grandfather?
After commanding the screen in an almost solo act in All is Lost (2013), Redfordhas impressed us with his screen presence again. He plays the character effortlessly, pulling off a charm that reminds older viewers of earlier performances in movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Out of Africa (1985) and Up Close & Personal (1996). The charisma is undeniable, and you would be rooting for the criminal if he was as suave as the award winning actor, director and producer.
No wonder Tucker has become the source of fascination for a rookie detective (Manchester by the Seas’s Casey Affleck, who sports a moustache and tones down his dramatic flair to let Redford shine) and also an old lady (The Help’s Sissy Spacek, in a role that triumphs many other overrated performances in recent memory). These supporting actors complement Redford perfectly, and are deserving of praise as well. Other familiar faces in the movie include Danny Glover (Monster Trucks) and Tom Waits (Seven Psychopaths).
Lowery, who has worked with Redford in Pete’s Dragon (2016), has delivered a gentle and affecting film. From the lovely soundtrack score by David Hart to the playful title cards that appear throughout the movie, there is always something refreshing to look out for. Impatient viewers may complain about the slow pace, but this compact 93 minute film plays out like a glass of classy wine. Its unhurried pace is befitting to the gentle approach of the production, and the chemistry between the actors suggest that the cast and crew had an enjoyable time putting this together.
The film will also be known to feature Redford's final screen appearance as the actor announced his intent to retire from acting last year. In a day and age where elaborately choreographed action sequences, complex special effects and showy acting seem to be the norm, it is nice to take time to appreciate a deeply humane film like this.
Thank you, Mr Redford, for your contribution to showbiz.
(A gentle and humane film that reminds us why Robert Redford is a true movie star)
Review by John Li