‘The Old Guard’: Film Review

The decision to take on a comic book series most haven’t even heard about is usually refreshing, which might be the reaction when The Old Guard is the latest to be released on Netflix recently. Since this is technically a superhero movie with having unique powers hard to believe, this will get people the chance to check out one of the better action movies to come out for quite some time. And because this is the only superhero movie we’re getting at this point during the summer, at least it was different seeing something on a low scale.

What’s the Story: Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary.

Charlize Theron, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Luca Marinelli in The Old Guard (2020)

When I was watching, this is coming from the perspective of someone who hasn’t read the 2017 comic book of the same name by Greg Rucka and artist Leandro Fernandez, which the former writing the screenplay. Having this concept of immortal warriors sounded like something that’s right up my ally, so coming this as a newbie to this adaptation, it ends up becoming an entertaining Netflix action, though my thoughts overall are just fine, nothing too special about this, in my opinion.

This deals with those who have gone through living their lives for a very long time in a way I expected them to take it. We’re seeing this group of people who have lived through this experience for centuries. You have this sense of understanding where they’re coming from. The people left behind are still a part of them after moving on, and it’s their purpose is to use whatever they have to make the world a better place. The emotion wasn’t there for me, but I can understand where everyone else might feel that.¬† The Old Guard was also a change of pace for director Gina Prince-Bythewood since she hasn’t made an action at this scale yet, best known for her work with Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, and Beyond the Lights. Seeing how she can practically do any genre, she did a solid job of bringing the comic to life and how its much different flair he brought to the film. Surprised to say I would like to see action from this director, if that’s alright with the world.

Seeing Theron taking on a role in an action movie doesn’t even surprise me anymore, but that’s not a negative thing to ever say. I’m always excited to know he’s going to do her best when kicking ass, even if a couple movies aren’t as memorable. With her performance as Andy (or Andromache of Scythia), it’s her character we’re mainly caring about the entire time, and seeing how she has been around the longest, we still want her to be capable of what she’s been doing that’s become tiresome. Plus, she was the perfect actress for this role. I think with every movie she’s in, it’s impossible for me to not have a crush on her.

But aside from Theron, Kiki Layne as Nile Freeman was great, especially when she discovers this new ability about herself that makes us also wonder why she can heal. She’s an actress I was hoping Hollywood would push forward after her breakout performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, and I’m glad to say she holds her own opposite her co-stars. The likable, dynamic presence between the crew is the best aspect of its runtime. Matthias Schoenaerts was really good as Booker, who fought alongside Napoleon. Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin) and Luca Marinelli as Joe and Nicky’s friendship/ chemistry with each other was unexpected, and it took about midway through to care about them, keeping alongside each other makes their strengths better since the Crusades.

Charlize Theron, Matthias Schoenaerts, Luca Marinelli, Marwan Kenzari, and KiKi Layne in The Old Guard (2020)

If you’re going in this to watch the killer action sequences, then you’ll have no problems with them, and it was more impressed with how Prince-Bythewood handled them. They aren’t anything on the scale of John Wick where they’re hard to remember one that stood out and could’ve used more of them when there was a little lack of them around the middle, but knowing these characters can heal and are still able to kill is watchable. And the stunt choreography behind them made them even more exciting considering the R-rating given.

Maybe why I wasn’t exactly feeling as positive about this as everyone else is because this concept sounded so interesting on paper, I felt like they could’ve explored this so much more if they explained why they’ve stayed alive for centuries. They might’ve done it with a brief moment of exposition with more flashbacks, but I couldn’t keep up when the pacing wasn’t working. A wasted Chiwetel Ejiofor as Copely and Harry Melling (aka Dudley Dursley from¬†Harry Potter) as Merrick the villains were very weak where I didn’t think of them as that menacing when their primary goal is to find the team to extract their powers for pharmaceutical purposes. Somewhat of a formulaic plotline, we’ve seen times before. This was the same where I wished for different reasoning. Seeing how most comic books are being turned into television series, maybe this would’ve made things a lot better.

While The Old Guard left me a little underwhelming in how it wasn’t as cool as I imagined, it’s able to still be watchable to experience the action and the performances alone, hopefully, to make the fans of the source material pleased with the results. To be fair, I might have to re-watch on later on to see if my thoughts will change after another viewing. But it’s an action movie where I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to see how to expand the mythology more.

Grade: C+

The Old Guard Movie Poster

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