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"THE OLD MAN & THE GUN"
(2018) (Robert Redford, Casey Affleck) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A life-long criminal can't quit his habit of robbing banks, much to the chagrin of a detective who's trying to capture the gentleman bandit.
PLOT:
It's the early 1980s and Forrest Tucker (ROBERT REDFORD) is a handsome 74-year-old man who otherwise doesn't draw much attention to himself in social situations. All of which allows him to rob banks without anyone but the employee or manager he's directly dealing with knowing what's occurring until after the fact. With the help of his accomplices, Teddy (DANNY GLOVER) and Waller (TOM WAITS), he's knocked off a variety of such financial branches across a number of states, with witnesses being unable to really identify him beyond being an older and pleasant gentleman.

All of which continues to frustrate detective John Hunt (CASEY AFFLECK) who's working the case but can't get much in the way of leads since Forrest is so good at what he does and takes advantage of whatever situation he finds himself in. During one of those, he stops to help -- but really does so to elude the police -- a broken down motorist, Jewel (SISSY SPACEK), and strikes up a friendship and then relationship with her. He even tells her what he does, but since he says so with such a twinkle in his eye and overall mischievous nature, she doesn't take him seriously.

But all of that becomes threatened as John finally starts to close in and with Forrest seemingly being addicted to both robbing banks and escaping from prisons where he always inevitably ends up, only to start again.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
People are often fascinated by the first roles played by actors and actresses who later went on to bigger -- and usually better -- things. Far fewer, however, pay attention to the last roles of such famous performers.

Of course, that's usually because those are tinged with one degree or another of sadness -- death, illness or simply old age -- that eventually put an end to such careers. For instance, would you have known that Elizabeth Taylor's last big-screen role was playing Pearl Slaghoople (a.k.a. Fred's mother-in-law) in "The Flintstones" or Gene Kelly's was embodying Danny McGuire, a washed up big band leader in "Xanadu?"

Thankfully, some performers simply decide it's time to call it quits in front of the camera while they're still kicking and capable of continuing, which brings us to Robert Redford. Having now performed in nearly fifty films over more than half a century, he's decided to call it quits -- as an actor -- with "The Old Man & The Gun" a film where the title makes it sound like a Western, which would seem appropriate since he's often associated with that sort of genre despite appearing in only a few such films (most notably, of course, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid").

Instead, this small flick -- based on a true story and named after a 2003 New Yorker piece about a man by the name of Forrest Tucker -- is of the bank robber variety. And not just any run-of-the-mill thief tale, but instead one featuring a very prolific and incredibly polite criminal who also had a knack for escaping from prison (reportedly 18 times). The real-life man and his story certainly sound fascinating and you can see why Redford might be attracted to it. The question that remains is whether the famous actor goes out on a high note or joins the likes of Taylor, Kelly, and others who chose unwisely.

Well, while I enjoyed the actor in the part (and he seems to enjoy playing it), the film is just so-so and feels like it's from a bygone era in the way it's shot and leisurely unfolds. Some might not mind that (especially viewers old enough to be of Redford's generation), but despite the robberies themselves and having a subplot of a detective (Casey Affleck) trying to hunt him down and the robber becoming romantically interested in a widow (Sissy Spacek), the film often lacks any notable forward momentum. All of which may leave many a viewer asking is that all there is?

More to come...




Reviewed October 15, 2018 / Posted October 19, 2018


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