Forrest Tucker spent most of his life behind bars. The reason: He is a notorious bank robber who, to make matters worse, was able to escape from prison 18 times during his dubious career. Director David Lowery tells the story in his gangster comedy The Old Man & the Gun now from the life of probably the only gentleman gangster in the world.
The Plot Summary
The aging bank robber Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) looks back on a remarkable career as a crook: In the past, he had managed to rob banks of their money on more than one occasion. He followed the subsequent arrests and convictions with over a dozen prison breaks. He even managed to escape from the legendary island of Alcatraz. He now lives in a retirement community and actually wanted to end his career as a bank robber, but his fingers are still itching. He puts together a gang of pensioners with whom he robs one bank after another and makes a lot of money in the process. When he meets the friendly horse lover Jewel (Sissy Spacek), his retirement life seems secure. But the ambitious detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) is determined to put a stop to the gang of crooks…
The Old Man & the Gun Movie explanation of the ending
The story of the criminal who escaped from prison 18 times sounds unbelievable until you learn at the end of “The Old Man & the Gun” that none of it was added to the true events surrounding Forrest Tucker’s unconventional life story. Tucker was real. He lived from 1920 to 2004 and had a remarkable criminal record at the time of his death. The constant reference to “hoodlum”, a now rather outdated word for gangster, is no coincidence, nor is the description of the gentleman mentioned in the film title. “The Old Man & the Gun” only tells the second story about the bank robberies themselves. Above all, it’s about the attitude of the gang of robbers, which stands in direct contrast to this. Before their escapades, they made it their mission never to use violence or put psychological pressure on their victims. A reference to the gun, a look at the cash register and a polite note that nothing would happen to the employees were enough for Tucker and his cronies to reach their destination. This made it so difficult for the victims, who were surprised by such behavior, to provide concrete information about the events of the crime, so that the gang simply could not be caught for a long time.
“The Old Man & the Gun” balances happily on the border between drama and comedy simply because of this contradictory behavior of the anti-hero at the center. The ease and matter-of-factness with which Tucker carries out his practiced craft often leads to comical situations (given the circumstances), but of course the film ultimately remains a portrait of a gangster. The investigative work that takes place parallel to the robberies, in which Casey Affleck is solid (“Manchester By The Sea”) Detective John Hunt, who is portrayed as doggedly pursuing the trio, takes up no less space in the film. This is important in order not to romanticize Forrest Tucker’s actions and to always make it clear what and who you are actually watching. On the other hand, the budding relationship between Tucker and Jewel runs a little under the radar, which at times gives the impression that the sprightly pensioner is being given a little background as an alibi so as not to reduce him exclusively to his existence as a bank robber. But it’s fun to finally see “Carrie” star Sissy Spacek on the screen again, who slowly falls for the charm of her new acquaintance – just like the attack victims let Tucker wrap them around their fingers.
If you follow Robert Redford’s comments (“The Moment of Truth”) If you believe him, “The Old Man & the Gun” will be the last time we see him as an actor in a film, which the Hollywood Foreign Press, incidentally, recognized at the beginning of the year with a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Actor”. This announcement of a screen retirement is both a blessing and a curse: If Redford actually says goodbye to acting, “The Old Man & the Gun” would be the optimal choice to step away from the world stage, because at times the film feels a little like that as if we were dealing with a “Best of Redford” in which references were made again and again to earlier stages in the Hollywood star’s career; especially when all possible stages from Forrest Tucker’s real life are recreated in a kind of follow-up, for which director David Lowery also uses archive material from other Redford films. At the same time, the California native hasn’t been as strong as he was here for a long time. It would be a shame never to see him again.
Sissy Spacek as Jewel and Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker.
Before his last film “A Ghost Story”, a melancholic horror parable about saying goodbye, David Lowery also directed the live-action adaptation “Elliot, the Dragon” of Walt Disney’s “Elliot, the Smiley Monster”. His productions are united by a certain tendency towards the fairy-tale and dreamy, but with “The Old Man & the Gun” the Milwaukee-born filmmaker once again underlines his entire directorial range. With great skill and flair for reliving different decades (“The Old Man & the Gun” repeatedly allows itself extensive flashbacks to different decades in order to depict as wide a range of Forrest Tucker’s life as possible), Lowery delivers a film that is, from a director’s point of view could just as easily have existed ten, twenty or thirty years ago. With an authentic nineties, eighties and optionally seventies flair, everything in the film is subordinated to the story. So reduced and yet full of attention to detail, “The Old Man & the Gun” is a cheerful crime story that is rarely filmed in this form these days.
Conclusion: In David Lowery’s crook biopic “The Old Man & the Gun”, Robert Redford once again shows his best side and refines an exciting, authentically staged look into the past that is fun and exciting.
“The Old Man & the Gun” can be seen in USA cinemas from March 28th.