The Old Man & the Gun: a perfect farewell to Robert Redford

The film icon’s last movie is one for the books

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A 70-year-old man robbing banks and escaping prison is an unusual swan song. 

Not for Robert Redford. 

In a fitting send-off, the film icon and Academy-Award winning director starred in recently released The Old Man and the Gun to wrap up his acting career. 

The biopic follows real-life American criminal Forrest Tucker, who robbed about 60 banks with two accomplices, Theodore Green and John Waller.  He was arrested, convicted, and successfully escaped prison 18 times.  

Despite its unusual story, the film’s title suggests a far more destructive character than the one Redford depicts. 

Tucker isn’t violent, abrasive or even rude—he’s never even shown holding his gun onscreen. He robs banks with a balance of charisma and decency that make audiences eager to excuse his actions. He even goes as far as to flirt with the bank tellers, charming them with lines like, “Don’t go breaking my heart now.”

Throughout the film, Redford is shown in shots reminiscent of past films from his storied career. 

In one scene, he sits on a horseback in the fog and wrapped in a fleece blanket, looking just like The Sundance Kid from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In another, he’s shown from the back with his shoulders raised up, like he could be back playing a newlywed alongside Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park

Signs of his age are undetectable in these scenes—he’s timeless.  

In this vein, The Old Man and the Gun is an ode to Redford’s accomplishments in film. The film’s director and screenwriter, David Lowry, even featured photos and footage from Redford’s life in cinema.

Seeing Redford both young and old onscreen gives the film a documentary feel: it’s as if the story is about the actor himself. 

Despite Redford’s strong performance, the film has its flaws. There are storylines that never came to fruition, and missed opportunities for evocative storytelling that aren't taken advantage of.  

In one short scene, we meet Tucker’s daughter, played by Elisabeth Moss. She never met her father because he was always in jail or on the run, and wouldn’t want to meet him even if he was caught again. 

But this is the last time we see her. The storyline ends there—no cathartic reunion or embracive reconciliation. In defense of Lowry, this dismissed storyline reflects Tucker’s approach to life. He doesn’t need anyone else to be happy, and he doesn’t need to be caged by familial restraints. 

The Old Man and the Gun eulogizes Tucker in a way where viewers can gravitate towards him—and it makes Redford’s farewell to cinema all the more mournful and fitting.

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