‘The Outdated Man’ Overview: Jeff Bridges Involves TV and Goes on the Run
With the appearance of peak TV, and its bidding wars for expertise, got here a rush of movie legends to smaller screens. Throughout the final decade, performers on the stage of Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Julia Roberts and Christopher Walken instantly found that it wasn’t beneath their dignity to star in a daily previous tv sequence.
It might appear as if almost everybody who issues had already made the transfer, however this week TV snares one other massive title: 72-year-old Jeff Bridges, a real member of the aristocracy of American performing. He has made a number of visitor appearances through the years, together with along with his father on “Sea Hunt” and “The Lloyd Bridges Present” 60 years in the past. However “The Outdated Man,” a moody, deliberate, seven-episode thriller premiering Thursday on FX, is the primary sequence he can name his personal.
Bridges performs Dan Chase, a former C.I.A. agent who bought concerned in unhealthy enterprise in Afghanistan throughout that nation’s struggle with the Soviet Union and needed to go underground; he’s flushed out of hiding when the sequence begins, and we watch as he goes on the run and tries to determine who’s after him, so a few years down the highway.
“The Outdated Man” affords the dependable leisure worth of seeing a silver-haired skilled convey his lethal expertise to bear towards youthful opponents, and the 4 episodes obtainable for assessment characteristic a number of lengthy, vicious, hand-to-hand battles that can have you ever squirming with each dread and sympathy.
That is territory that has already been staked out by contemporaries of Bridges’s like Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and, pre-eminently, Liam Neeson. However the sequence, based mostly on a novel by Thomas Perry and developed for TV by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine (who collaborated on “Black Sails” and “Human Goal”), has extra on its thoughts than cheering whereas the previous man kicks some butt.
Chase is a Chilly Conflict true believer who went past the bounds of his project in Afghanistan, and there are components of Graham Greene’s Vietnam-era quiet American in his character — the warrior whose naïve idealism and certainty (mixed with a weak point for a neighborhood lady) makes him harmful. He additionally has an artless vanity that may be charming proper up till it turns horrifying, a top quality showcased in his unintentional relationship with Zoe McDonald (Amy Brenneman), a lonely lady he encounters throughout his flight.
Bridges, essentially the most pure and authentically human actor round, navigates the currents of Chase’s character with ease; he’s completely convincing at each second, even when the writing will get slightly too ornate and preachy, which it does with some regularity. And bodily, he does a superb job of conveying Chase’s mixture of lethality and frailty, a situation that’s performed extra for poignancy than action-movie triumphalism.
(Filming of the present was briefly shut down, reportedly after the primary 4 episodes had been accomplished, when Bridges obtained a analysis of lymphoma after which contracted Covid-19 throughout his most cancers remedy.)
The Outdated Man actually is an previous man; the very first thing he does within the sequence is stand up in the course of the night time to urinate. And the present makes an intermittently fascinating equation between the paranoia and uneasiness that characterize Chase’s many years of hiding and the dementia that claimed his spouse and that he fears will come for him. Dwelling on the run and shedding your schools to previous age each contain forgetting who you actually are.
The seriousness of the present’s method to Chase, and Bridges’s excellence within the function, are what set “The Outdated Man” aside, nevertheless it’s additionally (via Week 4) a well-above-average if unusually pensive and introspective spy thriller. Directed by Jon Watts, maker of the newest “Spider-Man” movies, and Greg Yaitanes and positioned beneath the musical supervision of T Bone Burnett, the episodes have texture and an unforced urgency.
As a bonus there’s John Lithgow, who provides an expertly entertaining efficiency as Chase’s main nemesis, Harold Harper, a former C.I.A. colleague who’s now an F.B.I. honcho. He’s the neatest man in each room, and in scene after scene Lithgow, with out saying a phrase, makes positive we see the precise second when Harper figures out the factor that nobody else has cottoned on to but. Additionally glorious is Brenneman, as a personality whose actions could stretch plausibility however whose feelings and uncertainties ring true.
All you really want, although, is Bridges, and his preternatural skill to mix energy and delicacy, gruff drive and flashes of biting humor. (He can get vital comedian mileage out of only a few phrases — “Me too” to a very enthusiastic landlord, “Yeah!” to a waiter providing a wine checklist at an uncomfortable second.) Invoice Heck, who performs Chase in flashbacks to the Afghanistan years, is ok, however he suffers from an unattainable comparability: He’s not the 30-something Jeff Bridges.
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