There are way worse people to be robbed by than Robert Redford.
The Hollywood legend has been stealing scenes and heisting hearts for almost 60 years, a storied career that seems to be, if his new film “The Old Man & the Gun” isn’t his swan song, at least nearing a curtain call.
That all seems to depend on the day: There’s been retirement talk and also backpedaling. But if this is truly it in a cinema life well-lived, “Old Man” couldn’t be a more perfect adieu, with a flawed title character who brings so much of what we’ve always loved about Redford’s talent while also serving as an entertaining, inviting entry for new fans into a filmography like no other.
Based on the crazy life of a real-life career criminal, director David Lowery’s “Old Man” (in theaters Friday in New York and Los Angeles, expanding nationwide through October) stars Redford as Forrest Tucker, a stick-up artist who busted out of jail 18 times and was holding up banks well into his 70s with his Over-the-Hill Gang (Danny Glover and Tom Waits). As played by the Oscar winner, Forrest is a gentleman bandit with manners, keeping bank tellers calm as he absconds with cash and brandishing a gun yet never needing to use it. There’s a naturalness to it, like going for a cup of coffee.
It carries over into his getaway: Wearing the same easy smile as other Redford anti-heroes (“The Sting,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), Forrest will even stop on the side of the road to help a woman (Sissy Spacek) with a broken door and not worry too much about the cops speeding to his crime scene.
One of the key relationships of “Old Man” involves detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) and his pursuit of Forrest – a mutual admiration society between cop and crook – but the other is with Forrest and Spacek’s Jewel. Although in their twilight years, there’s real flirtation and attraction between the two, and Redford’s boyish charm – plus an equally talented dance partner – goes a long way toward believing that Jewel’s OK with falling in love with this guy, even after she finds out his questionable life choices