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Movie Review

If you happened to be a window teller at a lazy little Texas bank and saw Forrest Tucker ambling your way, you might instantly think he looked to be a friendly old gent. That relaxed smile, his hat tipped back just so, and his comfortable-looking, slightly ruffled suit and tie would all declare him to be as sweet and nonthreatening as a puppy that just tripped over his own too-long ear.

Even when Forrest opened up his coat, showed you the pistol in his breast pocket and asked you to fill up his briefcase with cash, you'd still think him rather nice. You know, a gentleman sort of thief.

That was always Forrest's strength. He could steal someone blind; but when he left and wished them a good day, well, they'd actually feel like the day was looking up.

That is, until the cops showed up and made things all glum again.

One such cop just happened to be in one such bank with his young son when Forrest and two other vintage thieves took the place for all of the cash in the bank's drawers. In fact, Forrest was so gentle about it that Officer John Hunt didn't even realize anything had happened until the old guys walked out and the bank manager quietly announced they'd just been robbed.

One thing the whole affair does for Officer Hunt, though, is to wake him up. Something about that polite pilferer and his elderly, over-the-hill gang piques Hunt's interest. And so he starts digging into police records.

Who is this guy? Why hasn't anybody pieced together the fact that these oldsters have been thieving their way across three different states for the last five years? And why did everybody actually end up smiling after every robbery this easygoing guy and his team pulled off?

Officer John Hunt can't help smiling himself. He might actually enjoy this case. And Forrest Tucker? Well, turns out he might enjoy it, too.

Positive Elements

Forrest explains his philosophy for making any kind of moral choice in his life, telling someone, "I think of that little boy, when I was just this high, and I wonder, 'Would he be proud of me?' And if not, I keep pushing through." (Despite that nice sentiment, however, one certainly has to wonder what said boy might think of Forrest's long career as a thief.)

While escaping a crime scene, Forrest meets a woman named Jewel whose truck is broken down on the side of the road. They strike up a warm relationship that actually impacts Forrest in small-but-positive ways.

Forrest steals a bracelet from a jewelry store for Jewel on a lark, for instance. But as exciting as the theft initially feels, Jewel realizes that she can't live with it morally. So they head back and pay for the item.

When Forrest gets arrested for his other crimes, he eventually fesses up about all the lies he's told Jewel. He earnestly apologizes in the hope of not losing her friendship. Indeed, she dutifully stands by him as a friend and goes to pick him up after he serves his sentence.

Spiritual Content

One character tells a story explaining his disdain for Christmas.

Sexual Content

Jewel asks Forrest, "Ya' got any kids?" He replies, "I hope not," unaware that he did, in fact, leave a daughter in his wake.

Hunt kisses his wife and dances with her in the kitchen late one night. Forrest kisses Jewel after driving her home.

Violent Content

During a robbery, one of Forrest's friends, Teddy, is shot. We don't see the gunshot take place, but we do see Teddy's bloody side being patched up later.

Then there's that titular gun Forrest carries. Though there's a certain implied threat in all of Forrest's robberies because of that pistol's presence, Forrest notes at one point that he's never actually ever fired the weapon.

During a car chase, pursuing police riddle Forrest's car with bullets, shooting him in the shoulder. He climbs out of his vehicle and carjacks a passing driver at gunpoint. But upon noticing the woman's son in the backseat, he lets them both out at a nearby corner.

Crude or Profane Language

Three s-words join two misuses of Jesus' name.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A woman smokes a cigarette. Forrest and his fellow bank robbers drink beer in a bar and in a motel room. Hunt drinks a beer at his kitchen table.

Other Negative Elements

We eventually meet Forrest's daughter. She never knew him, we learn. She only knew of him from the romanticized stories her mother told. She says that her mother was always infatuated with the glamorous image of this ever-wandering man.

Elsewhere, Forrest joyfully participates in various thefts; we watch as he escapes from prison 16 times over the years. When asked why he didn't just settle down and make an honest living at some point, Forrest quips, "I'm not talking about making a living, I'm talking about living!"

[Spoiler Warning] Despite Jewel's positive influence in Forrest's life, the old thief can't ever bring himself to turn from his life of crime.

Conclusion

The Old Man & the Gun is reportedly actor Robert Redford's swan song, his last film before drifting off with an easy backstroke into the sunset. And without a doubt, the seasoned actor's on-screen charm shines through brightly here. But that's really the only thing that makes this torpid cinematic amble the least bit memorable.

Based on the real-world story of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal who was first jailed in his teens and who spent the rest of his life in and out of prison, The Old Man & the Gun lingers lazily. It waits for its leathered hero to smile his warm smile while robbing yet another bank with a faded glint in his eye.

"Somebody should have told him to quit while he was ahead," Dallas police officer John Hunt says about the elderly crook. The prison official he's talking with retorts with a wry grin, "Well, ya' find somethin' ya' love …"

And that pretty much sums up the message this movie delivers with a moving-at-the-pace-of-graying-hair shuffle. We're trapped in the bad choices we make, the film tells us. And with time, those foolish choices—patterns that we see robbed Forest Tucker of love and family—become the only joys we can still feel.

It's a sad assertion that this movie tries to romanticize with an elderly former matinee idol and a melancholy wink.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker; Sissy Spacek as Jewel; Casey Affleck as John Hunt; Danny Glover as Teddy; Tom Waits as Waller; Tika Sumpter as Maureen

Director

David Lowery ( )

Distributor

Fox Searchlight

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

September 28, 2018

On Video

January 15, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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