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Film Review: 'The Old Man & The Gun' Mix Between 'Going in Style,' 'Set it Off'

by Todd A. Smith

 

Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Robert Redford and Director David Lowery (L-R) on the set of “The Old Man & The Gun” (Photo Credit: Eric Zachanowich/20th Century Fox Film Corporation).

 

 

‘Set it Off’ Meets ‘Going in Style’

 


“Set it Off” featured sisters from the inner city turning to bank robberies to make ends meet.


“Takers” represented suave, chic and sophisticated gents turning to bank robberies to give them the life of luxury that a nine to five could not provide.


And “The Town” represented the male version of “Set it Off,” featuring a band of bandits from a working-class Boston community.


What is missing from the genre of heist films?


A group of senior citizens setting it off and taking banks f0r everything they have.


That void gets filled with “The Old Man & the Gun,” which is cross between “Set it Off” and “Going in Style” featuring some of the best acting talent to ever grace the big screen.


“The Old Man & the Gun” proves that life is comical.


What people think they know about someone else usually proves that they know nothing at all about the people they encounter.


Someone that looks suspicious might be the best person to walk the planet.


And someone who looks like a gentleman or a sophisticated lady might be the most brazen criminal walking the Earth.


That reality is the basic premise behind “The Old Man & the Gun,” which is based mostly on a true story.


In “The Old Man & the Gun,” Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) looks like someone’s wise and innocent old grandfather who is enjoying the golden years of his life.


But in reality he is a career criminal, racking up numerous robberies and prison escapes in his illustrious career; 16 prison escapes to be exact and counting.


After someone has beaten the system so many times, one would think that Forrest would ride off into the sunset, especially after he meets a nice gal like Jewel (Sissy Spacek).


Think again.


In “The Old Man & the Gun,” Forrest and his crew of father-time looking friends like Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits) seem to like knocking off banks simply for the rush or thrill.


No doubt the bandits from the Over the Hill gang as police officer John Hunt (Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”) calls them like the money, but they also like the chase and the adrenaline rush that nine to five jobs do not usually provide.


However, one person that seems somewhat satisfied with his nine to five job is John Hunt.


He has a beautiful wife at home, Maureen (Tika Sumpter, “Southside with You”).


The couple has a beautiful daughter and son, Abilene (Ari Elizabeth Johnson) and Tyler (Teagan Johnson).


Furthermore, John has a purpose in life even though it seems that the stress of police work gets to him sometimes.


However, when Forrest is able to pull off a heist right under John’s nose, and then begins taunting him, the police officer will not rest until he has the bandit behind bars.


With “The Old Man & the Gun,” Redford walks off into the Hollywood sunset, officially retiring from the movie business.


Although “The Old Man & the Gun” is not an excellent swan song, it is a fairly good one, even weaving in some old film footage and photographs from films of yesteryear.


However, “The Old Man & the Gun” should have contained a little more action like bank robbery films of the past like the aforementioned “Set it Off,” “Takers” and “The Town.”


In one scene of “The Old Man & the Gun,” instead of showing the Over the Hill gang shoot it out with law enforcement after one of the capers, filmmakers only show the aftermath.


But with the subject matter of old folks outsmarting law enforcement and bankers to score an exorbitant amount of money combined with the talent of Redford, Spacey, Affleck and Glover, how can “The Old Man & the Gun” not be a sure shot?


With all of the great and established talent present in the heist film, it might have been difficult for producers to give the young John David Washington much of a role.


However, it would have been great to see the son of two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington go toe-to-toe with his father’s predecessors like Redford and Spacey, as well as his father’s contemporaries like Glover.


His performance was mainly opposite his contemporary Affleck, and lines are hard to come by for the young thespian that shone brightly in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.”


Washington has a long way to go to reach his father’s level of success.


However, Washington has the best mentors in the acting game with his father, Lee and now Redford, Spacey, Affleck and Glover.


On the other hand, Redford’s career has reached its apex and he has chosen a movie encore that allows him to show his acting chops while also having a little fun at the same time.


It is almost impossible for a film about senior citizen bank robbers to not have its comedic elements because the thought of old people robbing banks is extremely comical and highly unexpected.


The unexpected aspect of the film provides the moral to the story.


Too many times in America, people have a stereotype of what a criminal should look like and Hollywood has done its part to question that narrative with films in 2018.


In “Ocean’s 8,” Sandra Bullock’s character informs her female crew that they can get away with a humongous jewel heist because law enforcement will never suspect a group of female criminals.


Likewise, the Over the Hill gang finds so much success because people will never suspect a group of classy, intelligent and professional senior citizens of having the ability to pull off such a long string of capers.


But despite the great acting, “The Old Man and the Gun” is not good enough to measure up to “Set it Off,” “Takers” and “The Town.”


“Set it Off” contained some bad chicks doing baaaad things!


“Takers” had the smoothest players playing the system.


And “The Town” epitomized South Boston or “Southie” as the locals refer to it.


But “The Old Man & the Gun” has no distinguishing qualities to separate it from other heist classics.

 

Nevertheless, the film does have Redford in a good send-off for a superb acting talent.



REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR


This article was published on Friday 12 October, 2018.
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