The true story of Forrest Tucker, from his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are a detective, who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft, and a woman, who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.
ActorsStarring: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter, Ari Elizabeth Johnson, Teagan Johnson, Gene Jones, John David Washington, Barlow Jacobs, Augustine Frizzell, Jennifer Joplin, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Elisabeth Moss, Keith Carradine, Robert Longstreet
The story of bankrobber Forrest Tucker “is, also, mostly true” according the opening scene. The ‘mostly’ probably refers to the fact that the story we get told is pretty rose-tinted. Apparently Robert Redford is hanging up his acting hat, and The Old Man & The Gun is his final role, so if we take the movie to serve as a vehicle for Bob’s last hurrah then this rose-tintedness may be forgiven. Actually, knowing it’s to be Redford’s last makes the entire movie a bit more worthwhile.
The true story is that of Forrest Tucker, a gentleman bankrobber who in a most friendly and most discreet way has managed to rob dozens of banks over the years. He has also served quite a few sentences in prison, which he often manages to escape from as well. His first escape was from juvie and his most recent one was at age 70 from San Quentin.
It is clear that Forrest lives for robbing banks and little else seems to give him enjoyment or purpose. At another low-key stick-up, he and his two accomplices (Tom Waits and Danny Glover) manage to get away without detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who happened to be at the bank, even noticing it was being robbed. This annoys Hunt enough to start digging into the past and he finds there is a trail of unsolved robberies by three friendly geriatrics: the Over-The-Hill-Gang as he decides to call them.
In the meantime, as he was escaping from the police, Forrest pulled over to help a woman, Jewel (Sissy Spacek), with her broken down car – not because he wanted to help, but it provided a good cover from the police. Forrest takes her for lunch and charms her as he charms his other victims. He decides to be honest with her but she doesn’t quite believe he is a bank robber. Yet it doesn’t scare her off either and their relationship slowly develops as Forrest and gang rob a few more banks. As it has done many times before, Forrest’s luck will likely eventually run out and prison then awaits yet again. But that prospect won’t stop our friendly local bank robber…
The movie is not a difficult watch by any means. Redford and Spacek are very pleasant to watch as they effortlessly smile with a twinkle in their eyes; we never quite understand what, if anything, Waits and Glover exactly contribute to the gang -it’s the Redford Show- but they are nice to have around. Casey Affleck’s Hunt is a bit too bored and lethargic for most of the movie; when he finally wakes up and gets his own sparkle it’s a bit too late.
The cinematography is also pleasant and its graininess gives a feel of times gone by that suits the film. The score is often too slow and has the effect of rather than drawing us in, pushing us back in the role of laid-back observers.
So in the end we have a sweet and smooth movie, which lacks any depth or excitement. Just as an example, a bank robber who spent many years behind bars and escaped prison no less than 16 times must have something running deeper than just a smile and twinkle. As a Farewell to Bob the movie is a pleasant enough watch, but going out guns blazing this, alas, is not.