Gentleman Bank Robber
Gentlemen are few and far between these days. Unless you live in New York or other big cities, you rarely see a man wearing a suit, hat and tie, and you never see one robbing a bank while impeccably dressed. But Robert Redford has snatched the wonderful role of real-life bank robber Forrest Tucker (no relation to the 1950s character actor of the same name), a man who was always courteous and wore a sharp hat to go with his outfits. He spoke softly, never threatened anyone, and used his charm, smile, and ravaged good looks to get bank tellers to cheerfully hand over their cash drawers.
The Old Man & the Gun perfectly describes Redford’s character. At age 70, Tucker began robbing banks in small towns and apparently got away with it -- for awhile. Dogging him in this excellently filmed saga by cinematographer Joe Anderson, is handsome young detective John Hunt. He’s played by Oscar® winner Casey Affleck, apparently a graduate of the Mumble School of Acting. We must say at times Affleck is impossible to understand as he swallows his lines and speaks in a whisper only a bat could hear. But we like Affleck, for he is an affable fellow and usually does a good job of acting. Still, you might want to bring an ear trumpet to this film.
Redford seems made for this role, a man of older years who still shows what’s left of his youthful good looks (see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). He still retains enough charisma to hook Jewel (Sissy Spacek), a lady in distress along the highway. He pretends to help Jewel, who is a woman of a certain age, free of a husband, and open to Forrest’s charms. She agrees to meet him at a café and they begin a sort of reserved relationship, seemingly free of romance, but with a suggestion of a little hanky panky going on in scenes not shown on screen. Ms. Spacek, herself the recipient of an Oscar® (Coal Miner’s Daughter), shows enough acting chips to capture the hayseed character she is playing, also with acres of charm herself. It’s good to see Spacek on screen again because it has been too long a break between A-list films.
Redford’s character appears to rob banks in small towns effortlessly, drive away with impunity, and elude the police. But John Hunt, Affleck’s determined character, can smell a rat, and Tucker’s charms don’t fool him. We leave it to the viewer to figure out if Hunt is a good cop or not and whether Tucker can ever get away. Apparently, in real life he escaped from prison numerous times and returned to his old devilish ways.
The picture, directed and written by David Lowery and based on a magazine article written by David Grann, is presented at a leisurely pace yet never bores. It’s all packed into a comfortable 93 minutes, not too short and not too long. It’s a terrific bit of entertainment that almost any age (except perhaps toddlers) can thoroughly enjoy.
(Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures and rated “PG-13” for brief strong language.)