The Old Man
Jeff Bridges stars as former CIA agent Danny Chase in FX’s The Old Man. He’s been living life off the grid for decades; but when his past suddenly catches up with him in the middle of the night, he’s forced to go on the run. Making matters more complicated is the man hunting him, Harold (John Lithgow), is a former associate and friend who also had a part to play in past events. The pair’s excellent performances are what carry the opening two episodes through the lengthy set-up. However, the sluggish pacing drags the over-hour-long episodes on for what feels like an eternity.
Despite the high stakes established midway through the opening episode (though the exact specifics of what happened all those years ago remains a mystery), the show is concerned more with the human side of the story and the relationships between those involved. When we first meet Chase, he’s struggling with the loss of his wife to Huntington’s disease and worried about the state of his own mental health. Likewise, Harold’s introduction is an emotional interaction with his grandson. Their intimate performances sell these characters instantly before the action is underway, and the script only builds upon it from here one brick at a time.
This grittier, slower pace also means action scenes are gruelling and unpleasant ordeals. With no punchy choreography or snappy editing, one altercation at the end of the first episode becomes a prolonged test of endurance with a grizzly end. There’s no gleeful gratification to be gained here either. The violence (though not explicitly graphic in its depiction) is cold and indifferent while serving to ground the cat-and-mouse plot in a believable reality.
Whereas the prolonged action scenes work within the slow pacing to the show’s advantage, the various other drawn-out conversations and scenes that make up the rest of the runtime have the opposite effect. By the end of the second episode, a lot has happened but with very little payoff. As things stand, The Old Man has the potential to be a great and gritty thriller provided it’s able to pick up the pace.
The Old Man is released on Disney+ on 28th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Old Man here: