Robert Redford is charming as ever in David Lowery’s (A Ghost Story, Pete’s Dragon) low-key throwback about real life bank robber Forrest Tucker and the audacious series of heists he pulled off in 1981 after escaping from San Quentin prison at 70-years-old. Joined by Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits), in the not entirely flatteringly named, “Over-the-Hill Gang”, Forrest’s magnetic presence leaves an impression wherever he goes. Indeed, local Texas cop John Hunt (Casey Affleck) – who is almost hot on the heels of the gang — is left somewhat bemused by the reactions to the just-robbed bank clerks he interviews. “He was also sort of a gentleman,” one manager tells him, whilst a teller looks wistful as she pines that “He just seemed happy…”
Shot on gorgeous, hazy 16mm by cinematographer Joe Anderson, The Old Man & the Gun harks back to the grown-up independent cinema of 1970s New Hollywood. Serious, yet playful, it’s obvious that everybody involved is having a ball. Lowery even allows Redford and Affleck to play out a variation of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s iconic Heat showdown – although he comically relocates the action to a diner men’s room. Of course Redford can bounce off of anybody, but the standout scenes are those in which he shares the screen with Sissy Spacek’s love interest. The pair have chemistry from the get-go, and Spacek believably imbues widowed, horse-riding retiree, Jewel with enough wit and warmth to tempt Forrest from his life of crime. Perhaps there’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s a rare treat to find a whimsical crime caper that packs as poignant a punch as this one.