The Old Man & The Gun – Review

Worth seeing: for masterclasses in acting, from veteran Robert Redford still on top form in his 80s and in directing, with A Ghost Story’s David Lowery showing he’s equally competent with more conventional story-telling
Director:David Lowery
Featuring:Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Elisabeth Moss, John David Washington, Keith Carradine, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits
Length:93 minutes
Released:7th December 2018


Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) is a polite, charming, attractive, confident but unassuming man in his 70s.

He is also a highly accomplished armed bank robber, who operates – in broad daylight – with the help of two fellow old codgers, Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits).

With his typical disarming charm, Forrest sweet-talks Jewel (Sissy Spacek), a motorist who’s broken down on the freeway he’s using to escape the police after his latest bank job.

As it turns out, escaping is something he’s almost as good at as being caught, and on this occasion, the man hoping to catch him is Texas detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who thinks he’s spotted a pattern in a spate of recent robberies in the state.


This release has been preceded by a flurry of stories about whether it might be Robert Redford’s last as an actor or not. When he’s still able to command the screen like this, it’s a huge relief that this old man seems to have decided to keep going, with the prospect of more such treats to look forward to.

In many ways, while this is based on what is truly an astonishing, as yet untold true story, aside from an idiosyncratic directorial flourish towards the end and cinematography that makes it looks like it was shot during the period it describes, it’s not an especially original cinematic experience. Compared with David Lowery’s previous outing, A Ghost Story, it’s positively pedestrian in its conventional approach to story-telling – except, perhaps the requisite mismatch between the protagonist and his chosen profession.

But with that conventionality comes the simplicity of a clean and accessible narrative. There are perhaps a handful of arch twists that  nudge the crime caper forwards, but the clarity of purpose and professionalism both on and off screen make it very easy to dismiss any incoherence.

The audience is never asked to approve of what he’s doing, but with his breezy joie-de-vie, the old rogue constantly comes across as more loveable than the policeman on his tail, and that’s with Casey Affleck’s detective being a thoroughly honourable and loyal family man who, in any other film, would be the most likeable character on screen.

It’s so delightfully enjoyable, thanks to Redford’s exemplary acting masterclass, Lowery’s gently humorous screenplay and his steady and assured direction, that while far from perfect, it’s a rare privilege and a joy to watch.