The spy genre is so worn out that you’d think there’s not much new to be done, but “The Old Man” largely thwarts those expectations, thanks to the stellar combination of Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow. Looking for a precedent for this FX series, the best might be “Robin and Marian,” in which the rambunctious Robin Hood meets the cold reality of crunching bones and geriatric limitations.
Bridges’s CIA agent, Dan Chase, has been in hiding for years, living off the grid for reasons that gradually begin to take shape through flashbacks. (Bill Heck plays him as a younger guy, involved in covert action in the Middle East.)
It takes a lot to bring him out of retirement, but he’s ready when that happens, with world-weary Lithgow spymaster Harold Harper knowing full well that bringing him together will be harder than his minions realize. Just to extend the “Robin and Marian” analogy, Harper sounds a lot like the Sheriff of Nottingham in that 1976 classic, assigned to hunt down this character but not liking the prospect, and irritated by the hotheaded young men he must trust. . .
“You’re not the guy you remember,” Harper warns Chase over the phone, hoping to avoid the worst.
He isn’t, but he’s still resourceful and quite dangerous, along with his loyal dogs, as those sent to neutralize him discover. In fact, “The Old Man” (based on the book by Thomas Perry and adapted for television by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine of “See) features an inordinately brutal fight scene, in part because there is nothing pretty or choreographed about it. about. When Chase warns his daughter, “You don’t know how ugly these things can get when they get ugly,” she’s not kidding.
The limited series format brings with it some of the usual disclaimers, including the fact that the show takes its time getting to the meat in the anticipated four episodes, including a detour involving Amy Brenneman as an innocent bystander lured in. to this dangerous world. However, Bridges (whose health problems and battle with cancer add a rather poignant real-world aspect to the proceedings) proves to be very effective as the twisted spy – think Jason Bourne if he lived long enough to qualify for membership. from AARP.
There’s nothing particularly novel about the scenario, but there doesn’t need to be either. Because while Chase might not be the guy he remembers being, in terms of keeping the audience’s attention, Bridges and Lithgow put this “Old Man” in good hands.
“The Old Man” premieres June 16 on FX and Hulu.