THE OLD MAN – Review by Susan Granger

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Jeff Bridges delivers one of his most compelling performances in The Old Man, playing Dan Chase, a weary, disillusioned CIA agent who’s been living incognito in Vermont since he went rogue decades ago.

He’s a gruff widower, guarded by two ferociously loyal dogs; ever cautious, he communicates with his beloved daughter Emily only by burner phones. When he’s ‘discovered’ and assassins invade his home, Dan goes on the run, picking up a lonely, troubled divorcee, Zoe McDonald (Amy Brenneman), along the way.

Bespectacled John Lithgow plays Harold Harper, FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, who’s trying to get the upper hand in an increasingly frustrating endeavor. At his side is his protégé, Angela Adams (Alia Shawkat), whose past turns out to be treacherously intertwined with Dan Chase.

It begins 30 years ago when both Chase and Harper are seen as younger versions of themselves, covertly stationed in Afghanistan with the Mujahideen during the Soviet occupation. Back then, the US supported warlord Faraz Hamzad (Navid Neegahban) whose wife/advisor (Leem Lubany) ran off with Dan Chase, incurring Hamzad’s continuing wrath.

Adapted from Thomas Perry’s novel by showrunner Jonathan E. Steinberg and co-creator Robert Levine, it’s a pursuit thriller with flashbacks and dreamscapes, its urgency augmented by T Bone Burnett’s score.

With its unexpected twists and turns, it’s a bit reminiscent of FX’s hit The Americans, complete with multiple identities, disguises and a thought-provoking examination of family.

Watch for Joel Grey in a memorable cameo as a menacing CIA legend, the titular ‘Old Man’ connecting with both Dan and Harold.

Off-screen, during the production, there was even more drama when then-72 year-old Jeff Bridges was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and infected by Covid-19 during chemotherapy. The cancer went into remission but the virus – necessitating five weeks in intensive care – nearly killed him.

Writers are now working on season two, scheduled for late 2023.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Old Man is an intriguing, existential 8 – with all seven episodes streaming on FX.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.