Billed as a “mostly” true story and adapted from a 2003 New Yorker article of the same name, The Old Man and the Gun follows career criminal Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), elderly bank robber and gentleman, as he evades rookie detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck). As Hunt closes in, Tucker grows closer to retired rancher Jewel (Sissy Spacek) and prepares for his most daring heist yet.
Redford dominates the spotlight. His performance is enrapturing, with all his natural charm on show, and his relationship with Spacek is some of the best on-screen chemistry in recent years. The tentative respect between him and Affleck echoes that of Hanks and DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can; it is a testament to director David Lowery that this is shown with almost no direct interaction between the two.
Unfortunately, with Redford in full control, the rest of the cast is left with less time to shine than might have been desired. While his rivalry with Tucker gives Hunt some character growth, the same sadly cannot be said for Jewel, who by the end of the film has hardly spent any time on-screen without Tucker. In addition, it is somewhat difficult to gauge the depth of the friendship between Tucker and his accomplices due to a lack of time spent with them, which is a shame since some of the film’s most enjoyable scenes are between the trio.
Despite this, The Old Man and the Gun excels as a swan song for Redford, who announced his intent to retire from acting this year. Forrest Tucker feels like an extension of Redford himself – a successful, dashing man who has spent his life doing what he loves – and as a result, Redford’s performance is sincere, endearing, and a joy to watch. It’s a fitting final role for Redford, ensuring his screen career ends just as strongly as it began.