FX’s ‘The Old Man’ with Jeff Bridges: A thriller you’ll love

“The Old Man,” which premieres Thursday on FX, is slowly revealing its secrets — slower than I’ll do if you want to check out the sports page. For a while we may watch the story of a small-town Vermont widower who plays with his dogs, talks to a daughter, or exchanges phone messages, remote and unseen, and worries about the possibility of cognitive decline. His dead wife visits him in a dream. Old man indeed. But suddenly there are tin cans lined up to make an alarm, a gun, and a fight. Finally, we learn that Dan Chase (Jeff Bridges) is a man with a past, and that the whole point of this story is that the past, buried decades ago, is about to catch up to him – at the peril of the past.

Chase will be leaving Vermont, which brings him to the door of Zoe McDonald (Amy Brenneman), a divorced woman he rents a room from who will be in this story for a while, possibly forever. (Hitchcock has often gone this route.) This is evident from the official trailer, if we speak of spoilers, which also promises international intrigue. It’s also clear that Chase is some sort of master agent who won’t go back to where he came from. (“Anything you send me,” he announces, “I’ll send back in sacks; anything you send to my child, I’ll send back in pieces.”) Supervising his flight Harold Harper (an admirably reserved John Lithgow), an Assistant FBI Director with whom he has a history (the series could plausibly be called The Old Men); Lithgow’s assistant, Agent Angela Adams (Alia Shawkat – “like you’ve never seen her,” I mean), who seems to be a force for good; and Agent Raymond Waters (EJ Bonilla), who could be a force for less good.

Developed by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine from the book by Thomas Perry, but not limited to this, the series shifts part of the novel’s ancient history from Libya to Afghanistan, back to the time of the Russian occupation. (Both Bridges and Lithgow have well-cast younger colleagues, Bill Heck and Christopher Redman, respectively.)

But such details, while impressively executed and a driver of today’s plot, are also less important than what is happening to Chase or what Chase is allowing to happen at the moment. While there are at least a few delicious twists, the intricate storyline is mostly necessary to create ebbs and flows of danger to give the hero something to fight against.

I can’t say that every narrative point, even in the four episodes available for review, made total sense, but then again, nothing hindered the smooth flow of the storyline. This is a car that drives so well that the potholes don’t bother you.

In fact, the elements here aren’t exactly unfamiliar in and of themselves, and The Old Man succeeds by focusing on characters and character relationships – this is a thriller with a richer emotional foundation than usual – and making sure everything is perfect is made ; The series is shot as finely as a Japanese vase.

With its first two episodes directed by Jon Watts (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), “The Old Man” manages to not overdo, not tell you how to, through elegant understatement, from camera to acting feels or even always who to trust. The soundtrack is limited to the occasional sad strings; The action sequences are unencumbered by music and brutally realistic and realistically brutal for the genre, and Chase doesn’t walk away unscathed.

The leisurely pace of the series’ idyllic opening is maintained as the adventure unfolds; Scenes develop slowly, which allows you to get to know the characters and understand the relationships. And yet there is almost nothing foreign. The dialogue says exactly what it needs to say without ever coming across as flimsy; and when a character occasionally goes on a flowery tangent, or the production feels self-consciously artistic — like when Joel Grey’s former senior spook tells Harper he read his New York Times obituary while painting a picture in an otherwise empty mansion , a scene straight out of Orson Welles – at least her aim is high.

“There’s a villain in every story — no one ever sees themselves in that role,” Zoe will say when discussing her broken marriage, though we should extrapolate that thought to Chase, whose actions don’t necessarily align with what most do of us would consider everyday, ethical behavior. (Whether they’re moral is another question.) We understand from his own words that he’s done dark things, but Bridges is so obviously the hero that the moral world around him reforms to suit his needs and desires .

The performances are all impeccable, from the leads to the well-endowed supporting cast (Grey in a cameo, and when we catch a glimpse of Harper’s wife, the gorgeous Jessica Harper).

But it’s the Bridges show. If history leaves him for too long, you’ll be itching for his return. His authority is untarnished by time; If anything, it shines brighter. He’s an actor who would have thrived in any era of filmmaking – he’s lived through quite a few, by the way – a movie star of real skill, at ease in art films and popular entertainment alike, who’s still handsome leading man and quite plausible as an action hero in either circumstances transform him.

Chase is only superheroic in the sense that he has the gift of making the best of a situation (of course, he’s chronically underestimated by his enemies), but he does have his normal human side. He cooks. He has bad dreams. And he loves his dogs.

‘The old man’

Where: fx

When: 7 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. Thursday

Valuation: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under 17)

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-06-15/the-old-man-jeff-bridges-fx-review FX’s ‘The Old Man’ with Jeff Bridges: A thriller you’ll love

Sarah Ridley

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