(director/writer: David Lowery; screenwriter: based on the New Yorker article by David Grann; cinematographer: Joe Anderson; editor: Lisa Zeno Churgin.; music: Daniel Hart; cast: Robert Redford (Forrest Tucker), Casey Affleck (John Hunt), Sissy Spacek (Jewel), Tom Waits (Waller), Danny Glover (Teddy), Tika Sumpter (Maureen Hunt), Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (Detective Gene Dentler), John David Washington (Lt. Kelley), Elisabeth Moss (Dorothy, Tucker’s estranged daughter); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: James D. Stern, Dawn Ostroff, Jeremy Steckler, Anthony Mastromauro, Bill Holderman, Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Robert Redford; Fox Searchlight; 2018)

Redford is such a charmer, the thief he plays can easily get you to root for him to succeed.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 82-year-old Robert Redford has mentioned that this will be his last film as an actor and then sort of recanted that statement. If it is his swan song, he picked a great role and film to go out on (One of his best, up there with “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid,” “Downhill Racer” and “The Sting”). The film is based on a true story of an escaped felon and charming bank robber named Forrest Tucker, a legendary story which is kept mostly true (it leaves out his troubled family life growing up poor in the Depression and his doing hard time in prison). Director-writer David Lowery (“A Ghost Story”/”Pete’s Dragon”), showing a light touch, superbly adapts it from the 2003 New Yorker article by David Grann even though leaving out the author’s more developed characterization of his enticing protagonist but keeping in the framework of the author’s article. Redford plays a career bank robber working with the colorful Tom Waits and Danny Glover. They are nicknamed ‘The Over-the-Hill Gang’. Redford’s style is to casually walk into a bank he’s already cased, dressed neatly in a suit and tie and a fancy fedora, at times sporting a fake mustache, and while carrying a briefcase, he requests to see the bank manager and pulls out a fake gun while politely demanding cash. There’s never violence and he never uses a real gun. There have been over 80 heists. Over the years the smiling bank robber has been caught more than a few times and imprisoned. The lifetime criminal has broken out of 16 prisons, including Alcatraz. At age 61, in 1981, he breaks out of San Quentin and while on a road just outside Dallas meets the friendly widow rancher Jewel (Sissy Spacek) when her pick-up truck stalls and he comes to her aid. A reluctant romance develops when he dazzles her with his charm and she sticks with him despite suspecting he might be a criminal. The scenes she shares with Redford, like coffee at a diner, are the film’s best, as their chemistry together is dynamite. Also charmed by the gentleman bandit is the ‘laid-back’ Austin polices detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who is obsessed with catching Redford ever since he robbed a bank the off-duty detective was in with his son and never realized the robbery was taking place. When the story follows the officer’s unhappy marriage with Maureen (Tika Sumpter), it tanks for awhile until it gets back on the right track following the elusive rascal charmer thief hitting the road. Redford is such a charmer, the thief he plays effortlessly can easily get you to root for him to succeed. We also learn the Redford character can’t stop robbing banks because he believes he’s good at it, an explanation that goes about as deep as the director is willing to go to explain his main character’s sociopath character flaw.

REVIEWED ON 12/1/2018 GRADE: A-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/