The new Disney series is a choral story on two sides, that of the persecuted and that of the persecutors
“He who resists wins.” The phrase was pronounced by Cela in his acceptance speech for the Prince of Asturias, but it could well have come from the mouth of Jeff Bridges, someone who also knows a lot about resisting and winning: he spent his whole life accumulating merits until Hollywood surrendered to his feet and awarded him an Oscar. And he continues to resist: after overcoming lymphatic cancer and a covid that he caught while receiving chemotherapy, he has returned to acting with ‘The old man’, a series premiered on Disney + that adapts Thomas Perry’s novel in seven episodes.
Bridges is the old man of the title, so old that he gets up several times during the night to go to the bathroom and suffers the first attacks of some kind of dementia (he ends up putting the phone in the microwave). This introduction of the character in the opening scenes leads us to think that we are going to attend a drama about old age, loneliness and the passage of time, or just that, but we are wrong: when a man enters his house ready to kill him The old man fired two shots at him in cold blood. We are no longer facing a frail and vulnerable old man, but rather a murderer.
a hidden life
As we will find out, Dan Chase is a former CIA agent who has been under the radar for thirty years, who only has contact with the outside world through the telephone conversations he has with his daughter and who lives hidden with the only company of his two dogs. But the past brings him out of hiding from him, forcing him to flee. And his pursuer is an old acquaintance, the now deputy director of the FBI, Harold Harper (an immense John Lithgow), another old man whose sins also take their toll. Two enemies, one on a par with the other, who respect and fear each other in equal measure. And two actors of extraordinary presence.
Of impeccable workmanship, the series pampers the formal aspects, something that is especially manifested in the action scenes, capable of making us believe that a seventy-year-old can stand up to a thirty-year-old guy who is crushing himself in the gym: Jon Watts, director of In the first two chapters, he shoots a fight in an extraordinary sequence shot that demonstrates the tremendous physical effort that an old man like Chase has to come to grips with his opponent. But Chase is still a big guy and solid as a mountain, even if the passage of time has eroded it. And that the one he had, he kept.
The only drawback of ‘The old man’ is that, at times, it progresses at the pace of a nursing home. But that certain slowness does not mean that it renounces the tension, nor the impact: after all, we are seeing a spy story. And knowing that Chase will go to any lengths to avoid being hunted adds to the suspense, especially when elements he didn’t count on appear in his life, like Amy Brenneman (Zoe). And how good to see Brenneman again. And how nice to see a story of attraction between older people.
But both Zoe and the rest of the characters that accompany Harper and Chase are not mere extras, but actively advance the story. Thus, and although it is basically based on the figures of the two protagonists, ‘The old man’ is a choral story on two sides: in that of the persecuted, Zoe and Chase’s two dogs (yes, the dogs); in that of the pursuers, Raymond Waters and Angela Adams, the FBI agents who work for Harper and whose motivations are not as simple as they seem.
Meanwhile, Chase continues to try to escape from Harper and his team but, above all, from his past, a past that is explained through flashbacks and that unravels the answers to the many questions raised by the series. As if prostate problems weren’t enough for him, Chase will also have to fight the corpses that were hidden in the closet and are resurrected thirty years later. As the promotional slogan for ‘White Ants’ said, the past always comes back. And how brutal.
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