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Trigger-happy Redford is as charming as ever

07 December, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Robert Redford in The Old Man and the Gun

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN
Directed by David Lowery
Certificate 12a
☆☆☆☆

THE stick-up merchant holds a massive grip on the imagination of storytellers: the gunslinging outlaw in American folk tales runs from 1800s Billy the Kid crew through to the modern age Dillinger gang. Admired by the masses in real life, their reputations have only been celebrated and enhanced by Hollywood.

So it makes sense the true story of felon Forrest Tucker, a man who spent a lifetime committing crime and didn’t let creaking limbs slow him down, should make it to the cinema. And it is fitting he should be played by one of the screen’s greatest outlaws, Robert Redford, who gave us the Sundance Kid and Johnny Hooker.

Forrest was also a notorious jail-breaker, absconding from incarceration on 16 occasions, and he would hold up banks with a smile.

Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) notices similarities between a number of small-scale hold-ups and decides he must crack the case. He is struck by the fact the culprits are older men, always polite and careful, and are as non-threatening as a stick-up wheeze can be.

So Forrest meets Jewel (Sissy Spacek) after a bank raid and they fall for each other. Will Forrest quit now he has found love? And what does he say he does for as living?

Moments feel like art meets real life – it is as if Redford is recalling the days as Sundance, when he would lead a film as an all-action hero. One shot finds him perched on a horse, hat tilted, a blanket draped over his arms and a vista to gaze across. Much of the film’s charm comes from being based on a true story. It would otherwise lack the drama needed if it were just the figment of a screenwriter’s imagination.

Affleck, Spacek and Redford are an endearing and watchable trio who help jolly this mild crime caper along to a satisfactory conclusion.

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