Review: “The Old Man & the Gun” Is a Peak in Robert Redford’s Career

Robert Redford’s desire to make worthy movies has often contrasted with his taste; his filmography isn’t up to his intentions. His latest film, “The Old Man & the Gun,” which he has said may be his last, may also be his best one and is certainly among the peaks of his career. He has conferred his formidable art to one of the best filmmakers of the time, David Lowery, who both wrote the script and directed the film.

Lowery’s previous feature, “A Ghost Story,” was brazenly idiosyncratic—but, before that, he remade “Pete’s Dragon” (Redford had a small, charming role in it), a big-budget, multiplex-aimed movie, and, prior to that, the independent modern Western “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.” “The Old Man & the Gun” is based on a true story—in particular, on a reported article by David Grann that was published in The New Yorker, under the same title, in 2003. Lowery borrows that story’s framework for a movie that shares the fine-grained texture, gracefully flowing moods, and firmly rooted sense of place of his previous films and adds some bold new flourishes, for the most part, depend on Redford’s charismatic presence and that display it in a new light. He delivers a glorious, sly performance in a gloriously sly movie that masks its idiosyncrasy in brisk and breezy storytelling.