Stephen Lang Makes ‘Old Man’ A Dialogue-Drenched Thriller

'Avatar' alum's incendiary performance turns stage-like tale into a keeper

Two handers don’t get any leaner than “Old Man.”

Stephen Lang anchors this spare, sinister drama about loneliness, fear and, ultimately, regret. Director Lucky McKee’s film could easily be a stage play, and at times it’s easier to picture it framed by curtains, not the edges of a flat-screen TV.

What the story demands is a taut ending, and that’s exactly what we get … and good luck for those trying to predict the finale.

OLD MAN | Official Trailer

Lang stars as the titular Old Man, a solitary soul in a solitary cabin in the middle of nowhere. The story opens with him looking everywhere for “Rascal,” but the search is interrupted by a knock at the door.

A young man enters, apparently lost following a hike in the woods. The Old Man greets Joe (Marc Senter) gruffly, waving a gun in his face and demanding an explanation for his sudden appearance.

Is the young man a threat to this senior? Or vice versa?

“Old Man” features two actors in one modest setting, but the cinematography is never cramped or confining. McKee’s camera finds inventive angles and compositions, and his cast needs little more than that.

Lang’s late-stage career renaissance, from “Avatar” to the “Don’t Breathe” franchise, is a pleasure to watch. He’s slightly over-the-top here, but the trappings demand nothing less. It keeps our interest while we struggle to square the details unfolding before us.

And you’ll be guessing right up until the dizzying third act, all the while fearing the next explosive comment or revelation.

And they come in satisfying intervals.

“Old Man” isn’t interested in cheap scares or cheaper gore. This is a character study content to dazzle with dialogue and depth. We see cultural norms examined and subsequently discarded, two generations clashing on how they view modern living.

Senter has less to work with, on paper, but he brings a welcome edge to his mild-mannered character. Our sympathies keep shifting, and shifting, based on the latest exchange. That’s a credit to the film’s stars and McKee’s sense of storytelling proportion.

Is this old man someone to be feared? Or is the stranger, young and milquetoast, hiding something from the old timer … and us?

We’re given some spicy clues in retrospect, but once the curtain is peeled back the revelations are both shocking and well-earned.

How often can we say that about a feature film, let alone one from the indie film realm with a budget less than Dwayne Johnson’s protein shake budget?

HiT or Miss: “Old Man” isn’t for those seeking overt thrills or mile-a-minute shocks. It’s shrewd, sly and sophisticated, and star Stephen Lang is up for the challenge.

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