FX on Hulu’s The Old Man is a Bold, Wise Vehicle for Jeff Bridges | TV/Streaming

Bridges’ character is a man of mystery known by many names, but he most famously goes by Dan Chase. When we first meet him, Chase is living in a quiet town with his two very obedient Rottweilers, taking worried phone calls from his daughter about his lessening condition. Chase’s harmonious life is disrupted when someone comes to his house and tries to shoot him with a silencer—it’s no ordinary break-in, and the attention from local police to the crime scene has him packing. Chase gets a call from an old friend, a CIA figurehead named Harold Harper (a somber, aching John Lithgow), who we see standing in front of a giant jet with numerous agents ready to disperse. Harper gives Chase a head’s up, that Chase is currently being hunted to be captured. Harper offers him one last chance: disappear forever, and this phone call can be their last, and their secret. But if he resists, Harper and the CIA will go after his daughter, the one human connection that Chase has after his wife passed. 

Chase doesn’t take Harper’s offer, which breaks his friend’s heart, and kicks off a present-day hunt inspired by actions of the past. Chase and Harper go farther back than they want to remember, to a messy deal in the Middle East and the killing of Russians, but for “the wrong side.” The details can initially be confusing, and they’re always complicated. It’s about ugly political optics, a war lord, and the woman who became Chase’s wife, all mixed with the air of being anti-glory days. These flashbacks also display the series’ commitment to its characters—both are played to a tee by younger actors, with Bill Heck getting Bridges’ contemplative lip smacking, and Christopher Redman nailing Lithgow’s cadences. 

Based on the book by Thomas Perry, “The Old Man” displays its own awareness that life is a story. It’s not just about the paintings that introduce the episode, but how the characters talk about these twisty as a story, as a game that may not make sense to people outside of it, one that has been ongoing and lays dormant. Among the shadowy, sterile boardrooms at the CIA office, Harper holds secrets about Chase while being pushed by a new guy in the office, Raymond (E.J. Bonilla). Raymond has no idea what’s really motivating his hunt for Chase; no one does. Relationships are their own stories, and this series has many that are shrouded in secrecy, so much that they are used for twists that only heighten just how personal this is for everyone. 

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