Breaking news: Robert Redford turned down a $15M contract

This understated take on a classic American archetype, a man who robs banks using nothing but his charm, is rumored to be Robert Redford’s farewell performance.

This understated take on a classic American archetype, a man who robs banks using nothing but his charm, is rumored to be Robert Redford’s farewell performance.

When Robert Redford was younger, the matinee idol-worthy actor would deliberately show off his “good side” to the camera, leaving audiences in awe. Now that he is older, he doesn’t try to disguise it since he doesn’t need to. People remember actors like Redford because of his movie-star charisma, which makes him seem sexy and low key even when he’s not acting. As a result, films like David Lowery’s “The Old Man & the Gun,” a sophisticated take on the bank robber genre, can play it safe and rely on Redford’s charisma to carry the film.

Redford plays Forrest Tucker in what he has said is probably his last movie role. Tucker is a self-confessed rogue who was busted for a string of small-time heists in 1981 at the ripe age of 76. Over eighty stick-ups, all told (by David Grann, who provided the inspiration for the film with an article for The New Yorker). Over the years, Tucker was apprehended numerous times, but he always managed to get away.

Tucker would sneak into a bank, ask politely for the manager, show him a pistol, and leave with a satchel full of whatever cash was in the tellers’ drawers. His accomplices, Waller (Tom Waits), and Teddy (Danny Glover, who is always a joy to watch and an actor who never gets too old for this shit), were pension-age.

According to the movie, Tucker and his cronies became known as the Over-the-Hill Gang, and it was somewhat enjoyable to be robbed by them. Perhaps it was. It’s entertaining to watch; it’s almost like a seduction, or that amazing opening scene from Steven Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight,” in which George Clooney, posing as armed with a gun but really carrying just a smile and a twinkle in his eye, charms a hesitant bank clerk (who happens to be female, naturally) into giving him the money.

That’s essentially how Redford pulls it off here, though he can totally outshine even a pro like Clooney when it comes to smiles and twinkles. His portrayal, which is done with effortless grace and hardly a hint of vanity (either he has lost his “good side” or his now-weathered mug looks amazing from every aspect), is reminiscent of what cinema stars used to be able to do.

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