The Old Man review: Jeff Bridges shines in a useful action series | jeff bridges

TThe Old Man, a purposeful new political intrigue action/drama series based on the 2017 novel by Thomas Perry, cuts to the chase in the title. jeff bridges He plays the old man, who is in his 60s and 70s, lives alone with his two large dogs, appears to be on his last days, and is able to outsmart a team of FBI agents and pick fights with men half his age.

The seven-part limited series, developed by Jonathan E Steinberg and Robert Levine, is a better braid of male fantasies than it should be: hyper-competence in old age, the ability to protect loved ones from forces greater than themselves. understand, have superior combat skills applied fairly, prove people wrong, and ultimately be right. I mostly enjoyed the four episodes available for review, despite some long, crushing fight scenes that were well simulated but exhausting. Much of the show’s success is down to Bridges, who introduces a ramshackle character visibly beaten by the past but able to change shape in the present.

Many of the early scenes, when Bridges’ Dan Chase is still alone and undisturbed, are long, almost wordless shots (the bucolic sound design emphasizes the ticking of the clock, the wind chimes, his labored breathing) that are based on Bridges’ constant naturalism. Dialogue comes in the form of worried phone calls from his daughter, whose location and appearance remain a mystery, and spectral dreams of his late wife, Abbey (Succession’s Hiam Abbass, again criminally underused), who died years before of an illness. degenerative

Things take a turn about a quarter of the way through the first episode (like many overlong series these days, three of the four preview episodes stretched over an hour) when an intruder dislodges his sense of anonymity. Chase is on the run from an FBI team, led by opinionated old man Harold Harper (John Lithgow) and nosy CIA liaison Raymond Waters (EJ Bonilla). The latter begins to pull old threads from a dark story that feels both convoluted and shallow. (To quote Harper on several occasions, there are “things buried in the ground for 30 years” that don’t want to see the light of day.) Among them: Chase’s past as a former CIA agent during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (sadly portrayed here, as it often is, as an enigma from which foreigners emerge as heroes, or vigilantes, or both), Harper’s association with Chase, and their connections to a vengeful Afghan warlord. In the process of his long run from whatever revenge people want to exact on him, Chase rents a room from Zoe (Amy Brenneman), a lonely middle-aged divorcee who draws some tenderness from the fugitive and tells the old man’s story. a romantic spark.

The revelations here are rhythmic, the deduction of the characters often expressed bluntly. Nothing is too surprising, but she’s competent enough to be convincing, especially when she trains with Bridges to switch between fight, flight, and retreat modes. Chase’s convincing physical stunts are made even more remarkable by the fact that the 72-year-old Bridges nearly died during production of this series due to a combination of covid-19 and lymphoma, landing him in the hospital for six weeks and , what did you say. the hollywood reporterIt left him unable to stand for more than 45 seconds at a time.

Bridges stands out among a cast that surpasses Steinberg and Levine’s writing. (I cringed when a young Chase, played by Bill Heck, says in a flashback in Afghanistan, “In a war where it’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad…”) Lithgow can play the part. of an elderly bureaucrat with a china cabinet full of dirty secrets in his dream. Alia Shawcat, her sharp eyes twitching with inscrutable emotion, she holds the screen as Angela Adams, Harper’s FBI protégé whose motives are difficult to analyze. I wish there was twice as much screen time for Palestinian actor Leem Lubany as the young Abbey Chase, a magnetic combination of courage, compassion, and harsh judgment in just a handful of scenes.

Being The Old Man, though, there’s little room for women in a plot that boils down to two old enemy friends turning on each other in a likely final showdown (or rapprochement). Harper states, in the third episode, that his game “has no rules. His puzzles have no solution, they just lead to other puzzles. That’s what makes this game so interesting.” But the puzzles are not that complicated, the template is not that anarchic. The Old Man doesn’t break the rules of the action genre other than as a hero of an unlikely age, but he plays with them enough that he’s occasionally gripping, frequently interesting, and never less than watchable.

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