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Robert Redford rides off in style with “The Old Man & the Gun”

Over the course of a long career Robert Redford has cemented his status as a living legend. Not just a great actor, but a strong filmmaker as well. Then, there’s the fact that he’s the reason why the Sundance Film Festival actually exists. Redford has done it all, even winning an Academy Award (he hasn’t won an Oscar for Acting, but more on that later). Recently, Redford announced he was retiring, even if he sort of walked that back in days prior. If he’s to be believed, this is it. One more film. This week, that film opens in The Old Man & the Gun, a fun and light drama that perfectly utilizes the man.

The movie is a charming crime caper/character study, if you can believe it. This is the plot synopsis that Fox Searchlight has put out into the world: “Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), from his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft, and a woman (Sissy Spacek), who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.” This is basically an excuse to watch Redford be a real charmer, not that I’m complaining. David Lowery adapted an article from David Grann and directs. The rest of the cast includes Augustine Frizzell, Danny Glover, Elisabeth Moss, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, John David Washington, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and more. Daniel Hart provides the score, while the cinematography is by Joe Anderson.

Redford fans will delight in this flick. Everything that made him a star is out in full force here. The evidence is clear that Lowery loves Redford, but not only that, he insists that you love him too. This is among the better works of his career, even if it actually doesn’t ask too much out of him. Redford is hardly the only thing to praise here either, as Affleck and Spacek are excellent too. Plus, the musical cues here are perfect. It all combines to make this something easy to enjoy. As such, many have wondered if Redford will finally win Best Actor for this, as a way to crown the man for a lifetime of work.

The Academy may well see The Old Man & the Gun as their last shot to reward Redford. As such, look for a hearty campaign from Fox Searchlight. They’ll make efforts in Best Picture, Best Director (for Lowery), Best Actor (for Redford), Best Actress (for Spacek, unless she goes Supporting), Best Supporting Actor (for Affleck), Best Supporting Actress (for Spacek, unless she goes Lead), Best Adapted Screenplay (also for Lowery), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. Honestly, this is really an Actor campaign for Redford or bust, though is Spacek competes in Supporting Actress, she has a chance. She’ll potentially come along for the ride with Redford if that happens. We’ll just have to wait and see what Oscar does with him this final time.

This weekend, audiences will be able to say farewell to Redford when The Old Man & the Gun hits cinemas. It’s very much the Robert Redford show, though there are plenty of charms to go around here. As long as you don’t expect a world beater (this is much smaller of a film than you might be presuming), you’re in for a little treat. The movie will make you smile for much of its running time, and that’s what counts. Give it a look and show Redford how much you appreciate what he’s brought to the cinematic world over decades of work…

Be sure to check out Redford in The Old Man & the Gun, opening in theaters starting on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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