Spoilers The Old Man (Jeff Bridges spy/thriller) on FX and Hulu

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Locutus of Bored, Jul 4, 2022.

  1. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored I Will Devour Your World Moderator

    Jul 5, 2004
    Viva Las Vegas!
    Spoiler free review of the show in the OP but follow-on posts may contain spoilers, so take care.

    While in the hospital last week looking for things to watch I really got into Season 1, Episodes 1-4 (with three more as yet unaired episodes left in the first season, which has already been renewed for a 2nd) of The Old Man, on the FX Channel on Thursdays or FX on Hulu the next day. It's based on the standalone Thomas Perry novel of the same name, and is a spy / thriller series.

    Some series get stretched out from a single novel or film script concept when they should be shorter, but there hasn't been a bit of filler in the first four episodes of this show, which have been engrossing and incredibly suspenseful. The reviews are outstanding and it's worth every bit of that 94% critic and 86% audience score and more.

    Everything about this series feels like it has a film-like quality. The cinematography is gorgeous, both in the rural back country of the US and what is supposed to be the mountainous Afghan northern border region during the Soviet/Afghan War of the 80s, during which the protagonist's younger self was a CIA operative who went rogue to help an Afghan warlord shunned by the CIA to fight the Soviets and then had to go into hiding with a new identity for the next three+ decades until his past comes back to haunt him again.

    The cast is right out of a top-notch dramatic thriller. Jeff Bridges was both diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) and caught COVID while undergoing chemo when the production began in 2020, and his weakened lymphatic system left him immuno-compromised and nearly killed him while the production took a two-year break during the pandemic and for Bridges to recover. Now he's in remission and he's kicking ass (convincingly so) at a badass 72 years of age. His age is not overlooked but is incorporated into the story, so that the things that used to come easy to him now are more difficult, but he still has never lost the muscle memory of being a trained soldier in Vietnam and CIA field operative.

    John Lithgow plays Bridges' former CIA handler back in Afghanistan who performed some illegal activities to help his agent supply the warlord, but now has a near legendary reputation to protect as the FBI Director of Intelligence, and doesn't want his shady activities at the CIA to come out, so he'll due anything to keep Bridges from being caught and interrogated, whether that means secretly helping him to escape the CIA and FBI agents chasing him, or worse.

    Amy Brennemen plays a similar role to that of her character in Michael Mann's excellent Heat, except this time she falls in with Bridges's well-meaning but deadly fugitive ex-agent instead of DeNiro's fugitive robber/killer. She's "only" 14 years Bridges' junior, so it's not the worst May-December Hollywood pairing by a longshot, but she very much doesn't look her age. But she is definitely not a passive character along for the ride, and asserts herself and establishes her agency in a big way a few episodes in.

    Alia Shawkat plays an ambitious FBI agent and star pupil of her mentor (Lithgow) whose family she is close to, who gets involved in the fugitive hunt as a lead agent and doesn't take any shit from those who would seek to underestimate her.

    Kenneth Mitchell from (Kol / Aurellio and others from Discovery) plays a recurring role as an FBI agent that incorporates his ALS into the show. I'm not sure if they filmed his scenes of him speaking before he lost his voice in late-2021 or dubbed over his voice with someone else's or used a Deepfake from his many previous film and TV roles. I suspect either the first or last, because it certainly sounds like his voice and looks seamless. It's not a major role, but I just mention here since he's a Trek alumnis and it was nice to see him again. My first time seeing him was back on Jericho in 2006, which the showrunner's hail from, along with Black Sails and others.

    Navid Negahban, better known as the Shadow King in FX's Legion or the Sultan in the live-action Aladdin, plays the Afghan warlord and former friend turned one of the antagonists of the series to Bridges. Why their friendship fell out is the central plot of the story, and instead of dragging it out mystery box story we start receiving backstory that explains their rising antagonism through well-edited and fulfilling flashbacks that don't wear out their welcome and actually impart useful knowledge while being an exciting "prequel" story within themselves.

    I can't recommend this show highly enough. The action scenes are well-choreographed and post-cancer Bridges is a hell of a lot more convincing at it that Liam Neeson has been in his 800 failed attempts at reclaiming his Taken resurgence as an action star. Bridges also ditches his hippie "The Dude" routine completely to imbue this character with a real sense of menace, but also a lot of vulnerability.

    A+, 10/10, ★★★★★, :techman::bolian:
  2. Jayson1

    Jayson1 Admiral Admiral

    Mar 21, 2017
    I have been watching this show because you recommended it and you are correct. It's a awesome show. Very good and feels series and foreboding in a good way. I like how the show feels almost poetic but also mysterious even if the motives of characters seem very grounded and very human. You always feel though like their is something darker and sinister underneath it all that is waiting to be revealed.
  3. Forsythe

    Forsythe Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Sep 16, 2020
    I actually found myself re-watching episodes, and wondering if I thought this show was fabulous, or just heightened by the presence of Bridges and Lithgow. No, I genuinely loved it. Their younger counterparts are well cast (Christopher Redman, playing young Harold Harper in particular. I was convinced they had Lithgow dub in his voice, but it's my understanding, that indeed, he did it all on his own. )
    Rare is the show that engages me like this. I loved the dialogue, I loved the direction. While I am concerned that they are apparently going forward beyond the source material, I look forward to seeing what they have to offer as season 2 has gotten been greenlit.
  4. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 18, 2007
    I was enjoying the hell out of this show, & then I assumed there'd be an 8th episode that reached somewhere. I felt kind of gypped by the last episode. It just got left hanging there.