In these cinema-less times, Netflix has been the saviour of movie buffs, with new releases like Extraction and Da 5 Bloods, their latest film, The Old Guard, is also a very solid watch. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and based on the comic book of the same name, the film follows a group of centuries-old immortal soldiers, led by Andy (Charlize Theron), who fight for what they think is right. The team suddenly discover a new soldier like them has been created, and rush to find her, whilst being hunted themselves.
The Old Guard gets off to a flying start, quickly introducing the new immortal Nile (Kiki Layne), a marine, who miraculously comes back to life after being killed in Afghanistan. Andy tracks her down and forces her to join her crew, as she believes it is for Nile’s own good.
Nile acts as an audience surrogate; making the exposition more natural by being as new to the crew as the audience. The dynamic between her and Andy grows as the film goes on, but once she is introduced to the team the movie loses momentum; going from being very intriguing to extremely predictable, feeling like a missed opportunity from what was a very good set up.
In terms of action, for the most part, it is entertaining with the group fight scenes being the highlight. However, these scenes suffer from anachronistic pop music cuts and disjointed camera work that make it difficult to follow what is happening on screen. Prince-Bythewood makes excellent use of Theron as the lead though, with the South-African star doing a lot of her own stunt work. Theron’s commitment to action scenes is well renowned, reportedly needing 3 surgeries after filming wrapped.
The film was written by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the comic book, and it’s his characters which make The Old Guard stand out from its action-movie competition. Each one of the heroes has depth and a back story, and the relationships between them feel very real and at times touching, especially that of Nicky (Luca Martinelli) and Joe (Marwan Kenzari). Andy (Theron) has her backstory told through flashbacks, though they are brief it is awesome to see her fighting throughout history, and harrowing to learn the reasons as to why she is so beaten down in the modern day.
Unfortunately, the same level of detail was not applied to the film’s villains, with big pharma CEO Merrick (Harry Melling), who is trying to capture the immortals, being so ridiculous and exaggerated it ruins the viewers immersion in this otherwise gritty and real world. Chiwetel Ejiofor puts in a good performance as Copley, but lacks the depth of the heroes due to a lack of screen time.
Overall, The Old Guard is worth checking out if you are a fan of action movies, and it serves as a good introduction to the characters. The movie sets up a sequel, which will hopefully make use of the set up of this movie.
Image Credit: The Movie Database