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Review: Old Man and the Gun

Robert Redford's last hurrah is poignant tale about living life to the fullest.

Sometimes a crime film works a lot like it’s heist. For instance, Inception brings you so deep into an illusion that you doubt what’s real. Well, if the same can be said about Old Man and the Gun, the word you’d want to use is elusive. This film comes and goes, and some might even say that it wasn’t even there, but the film walks away with the goods. The Old Man and the Gun is a film that sings thematically, but does so by plotting a film that almost feels pointless at times. It’s an odd marriage to say the least, but in retrospect it’s the perfect combination to think.

The title says it all, Robert Redford is… the Old Man and he has a gun. The thing is that the Old Man’s pass time with this gun is bank robbery and it’s something that he simply cannot get enough of. Based on the real life of Forrest Tucker, the bank robber and escape artist that couldn’t get enough, the Old Man and the Gun is far from a biopic. It operates as straight cinema with Tucker’s life as the basis.

Sometimes a comedy, sometimes a drama, and often a heist film, the Old Man and the Gun chooses not to place itself oto firmly in any stable allowing it to operate freely, much like its protagonist. It does this with varying success, but ultimately it pays off in dividends as we come to the third act of the film, and Tucker has to take a good long look at the life he’s choosing to live.

Robert Redford is subtly magnificent in a role about an untouchable man, or at least a man who sets out to seem that way. The script calls for some pretty nimble emotion moments that make or break the film, and Redford handles them with shielded sensitivity and grace. The real star of the show here is Casey Affleck, who’s character is also given a lot more to work with. Much like another heist movie, Heat, we wait for the moment that these two stars come face to face, and it’s served at one of the most palpable moments in the film.

The story has a very specific moment where it really could have ended, and arguably should have. The final ten minutes of the film work, but feel almost unnecessary. There is never anything wrong with a little more Redford, but there is something wrong with ruining the emotional dynamic of an incredibly crafted sequence.

There is something incredibly poetic about this film being Redford’s final role. Old Man and the Gun works as many things: a comedy, a drama, and even a crime film. However, what it truly succeeds at is its allegory, reminding us that living always comes before making a living.

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Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a Toronto based filmmaker and creative mad man. Legend has it that he spent most of his childhood locked away in a cell beta testing Netflix.