Jeff Bridges is the latest in a line of A-list stars to “give in” and switch from film to television. Admittedly, for the legendary Jeff, the role of a former CIA operative whose past will begin to catch up with him when he thought it was all over, is actually a return to television, because even as a child in the late fifties and sixties, he had his first minor roles on TV, among others in to his father Lloyd’s show. The role of the “old man” Dan Chase was Bridges’ first role after a battle with cancer and an acting break of almost four years. And although Bridges is in standard good form and although this series, as usual, started more than solidly, relatively quickly the story deflated and “The Old Man” turned into a somewhat generic action thriller.
For more than three decades, Chase has been living a quiet life somewhere in the inner New York and he is still trying to come to terms with the fact that his wife Abbey (Hiam Abbas) has died. He now lives with two well-trained Rottweilers, and until a guy breaks into his house with the intention of killing him, Chase seems like your average grumpy and grumpy retiree in his late sixties or early seventies. But when he kills the intruder with the help of his dogs and starts a new attempt to hide, we will realize that he is not just anyone, but a guy with an extremely dark past. And while he is trying to hide again, and a special FBI team led by his former colleague Harold Harper (John Lithgow) is on his heels and trying to eliminate him, through flashbacks we also learn the back story.
That background story takes us to the second half of the eighties and to Afghanistan during the war with the Soviet Union, when Chase was a CIA operative who got out of control and sided with a local warlord who was not supported by the US administration. The situation further boiled over when Chase escaped from Afghanistan with the warlord’s wife and they successfully hid in America for years, but something that had been buried for 30 years will now begin to pay off. The biggest problem with “The Old Man” was that it all seemed quite naive and unconvincing, as if Bridges had taken over the baton from Liam Neeson and continued what he had started for the last ten years. The background story about the events of the Afghan war was actually the most interesting part of the series that was renewed for the second season, which is not surprising because the first one ends with that typical cliffhanger and no real resolution.