FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2018 -- The story of Forrest Tucker - the criminal, not the actor - is as oddly true as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Bonnie and Clyde. Ironically, Robert Redford played the likable bank robber Harry Longabaugh (aka The Sundance Kid) and now portrays the very similar Tucker in David Lowery's latest film. Redford has stated that this will be his last acting job.


I've often said, an actor should go out playing a role he plays best. (I'm looking at YOU Clint Eastwood - must make one more western!) And, whether you realize it or not, Redfords' best roles were as a crook - "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "The Sting", "The Chase", "The Hot Rock" and even "Sneakers". He creates a character that has kernels of Sundance, Jack Weil ("Havana") and Sonny ("The Electric Horseman").


He is joined by Oscar winners Sissy Spacek as his love interest and Casey Affleck as the cop chasing him in a story that will remind you a lot of "Catch me if You Can", "Casino", and even "Dillinger". The biggest similarity is the off-kilter admiration the lawman develops for the crook, even though he knows he must arrest him.

In the film Tucker has already broken out of San Quentin Penitentiary and teamed up with old friends he met in the joint - Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Watts) - the trio have begun an improbable interstate bank robbery spree and are publicly known as the Over-the-Hill Gang. In some instances Tucker robs a bank alone and customers can only remember how polite he was.


During a brief break from the robberies he befriends the widow Jewel (Spacek) who owns a horse ranch that she can barely manage. After a great deal of hedging, they begin a relationship even though he has told her he's a criminal - she doesn't believe him.


On the other side of the law is Officer John Hunt (Affleck) who has drawn the assignment to finding this old coot who robbed a bank in his town. But he gets very little help from witnesses who can only remember how polite and old the robber is; but no solid description.


While the robberies provide a measure of amusement, it is the dialogue between Redford and Spacek and Redford and the rest of the cast, that provide the most entertainment. On quip he states he's been "meaning to get around to learning how to ride a horse"; a statement that jabs at his many roles on a horse including the aforementioned "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", The Horse Wisperer", "The Electric Horseman", and "Tell Them Willie Boy was Here". But the movie also reflects back to his films like "Sneakers" and "The Chase".


This is the third collaboration between Lowery and Affleck ("A Ghost Story" and "Ain't Them Bodies Saints") and the second with Redford ("Pete's Dragon"); the comfort level is obvious as he guides them through their performances.


"The Old man and the Gun" is a nearly perfect send-off for one of Hollywood's most respected thespians, Robert Redford. It's a great recall of some of his more memorable roles with nice pacing, terrific casting and of course superb acting.   -- GRADE B+ --   GEOFF BURTON