- David Lowery
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 33 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
Can Ethiopians change their skin
or leopards their spots?
Then also you can do good
The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!
While her car is being fixed Forrest becomes acquainted with Jewel. (c) Fox Searchlight PicturesDirector David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon) worked with co-writer David Grann (The Lost City of Z) to adapt the latter’s New Yorker article about Forrest Tucker’s unusual crime career. Robert Redford(who had a supporting role in Pete’s Dragon) plays the affable bank robber, concentrating on his later years in 1981. By means of flashbacks the director reveals that this man was the Houdini of criminals, escaping from prisons 16 times, beginning when he was a juvenile.
After one of his many bank robberies he sees a woman standing in front of her stalled car, its hood up. He stops to help, taking Jewel (Sissy Spacek) to a café while the car is being repaired. During their chat he declares that he robs banks for a living, but she mistakes his light tone for humor. She herself is a widow who raises horses on her Texas ranch. They establish such rapport that she gives him her telephone number, which he later uses so they can get together.
To a lesser extent the film is the story of the man who will join the hunt for the robber, John Hunt (Casey Affleck), a police detective somewhat jaded with his job. The only think outstanding about him is that his wife Maureen (Tika Sumpter) is a black woman. One day, while at his bank waiting in the teller line with his young son, Tucker and his two accomplices (played by Danny Glover and Tom Waits) come in and rob the place. As during all of their robberies, Tucker is polite, using his gun as a prop to back up his command to the manager to give him all the money in the till.
After this robbery Hunt takes up the chase, seeing a pattern in a large number of Texas bank robberies.The robberies are (mostly) nonviolent, pulled off by three old men, the leader of whom is always described as very polite, “a real gentleman.” In a TV interview Hunt dubs the trio “The Over the Hill Gang.” Watching this on his T V set, Tucker is amused, thereafter taunting his pursuer, at one time leaving him a note—written on a hundred-dollar bill. After tracking down Tucker’s identity, Hunt is upset that he is pushed out of the pursuit by the FBI who take over because the case is now a federal one. But be assured, he re-enters the story a little later.
Tucker’s love affair with Jewel is a real one, he even secretly visiting a bank on her behalf, for once not to rob it, but to put some money into it. He wants to pay off her large mortgage on her ranch, but this proves more complicated than he had expected. He even tries to settle down for her sake. It is during this period that we learn of his abusive childhood that helped shape his later life. He confesses to having children and abandoning them. In a clever montage we see his 16 incredible escapes, one of them from Alcatraz by means of a boat he and some other inmates had been able to build, thanks to their labor in the prison workshop. Alas, though his love for Jewel is great, his love of his nefarious job is greater, and he returns to robbing banks. This leads to another stint in prison–and another escape!
As long as one does not think of real life, this film is a delightful addition to the likeable crook and conman film. These stretch back to the crime films of Humphrey Bogart, the outlaw Westerns of Henry Fonda, and Paul Newman and Redford, and dozens of con artists outsmarting “the rubes.” We root for them on screen, but when the end credits run, we become aware again of the truth of Jesus’ parable about the man who built his house on a rock and the other who built upon sand. (Mtt. 7:24-27)
This review, with a set of questions, will be in the October 2018 issue of VP. If you have found these reviews helpful, please support this ministry by subscribing or by purchasing a single issue. Past issues of VP are available back to 2012, all of which are available to annual subscribers.
The article that inspired this film, from the New Yorker, Jan 27, 2003 , is available at: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/01/27/the-old-man-and-the-gun
Fox Searchlight Pictures