Robert Redford is trading in his cowboy pants for his Old Man pants in what is reportedly his last acting role.
This week’s film is "The Old Man & the Gun", starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck. The old man is based upon a real life, prolific bank robber named Forrest Tucker, who fueled his own legend by continuing to rob banks well into his social security years and by self-promoting his gentlemen robbery demeanor which employed a smile and soft words rather than a gun. Forrest is of course played by none other than Utah’s own Sundance kid, Robert Redford, in what he has proclaimed will be his last movie. Written and directed by David Lowery, the story is inspired by a profile of Forrest in New York Magazine and Lowery’s script embodies the old western press adage proclaimed in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Forrest isn’t just prolific; he’s a serial bank robber. But not for the money, he’s hooked on the adrenalin of the act and fun of the chase. He calls that living. Forrest is occasionally caught, but incarceration only fueled the legend as he became even more ingratiated in the public’s eye by escaping again and again- 18 times by his count, including a bold water escape from San Quentin. Director David Lowery is an up and comer who’s put together a string of diverse hits including "A Ghost Story", "Pete’s Dragon" and "Ain’t Them Body Saints". The young director succeeds again with his foray into a heist drama, employing cinematographer Joe Anderson to create a look and feel to the 1980s setting as legit as his lead star. Lowery also shows wisdom beyond his years by casting Sissy Spacek opposite Redford as Jewel, a widowed rancher who gives pause to the wanderlust of the old bank robber, and also casting Lowery’s own prior partner in crime, Casey Affleck, as the detective hot on Forrest’s trail. All three actors deliver solid, layered performances that cross, albeit quietly, through pastures of connection, trust and identity.
So, on my ski trail rating system, "The Old Man & the Gun" earns my intermediate BLUE ski trail rating. Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek maintain a slow burn through a low key script that turns back the clock. While obviously the film is a bit of a privileged retread and embellishment of the good bad guy lore, it is nonetheless the perfect vehicle for Redford’s swan song and steers the audience on a hybrid ride somewhere between the films "Catch Me If You Can" and "Grumpy Old Men". The ride will have you smiling the whole way.
"The Old Man & the Gun" is rated PG-13 for language and not so grumpy old men.
This is Mark Harrington for KPCW’s Friday Film Review. The Friday Film Review is sponsored by the Park City Film Series.