Movie Review: The Old Guard (2020)

Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Old Guard is a 2020 superhero(ish) action film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, released onto Netflix. Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a team of immortal soldiers — of the nearly-instantly resurrecting variety, not the ‘impervious to damage’ variety — consisting also of Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari, live action Aladdin‘s Jafar) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). When the team sense a new immortal, Nile (KiKi Layne) has awoken, they set out to bring her into the fold. Simultaneously, CIA agent Copely (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Doctor Strange) and pharmaceuticals magnate Merrick (Harry Melling, Harry Potter‘s Dudley Dursley, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ limbless storyteller) is seeking any and all members of the team for their own reasons.

+ all four of the Guard are fantastic, with each getting as much screen time kicking ass as stretching their acting chops, while Kenzari in particular gets the movie’s best monologue. I don’t think I’ve seen (or heard, in the case of The Lion King) Ejiofor in a role I didn’t enjoy, and Melling is great once again, albeit in a more minor and far less physical role than the rest of the cast
+ admittedly, I did expect more action than what we got, particularly with Theron’s recent filmography and the not-so-recent uptick in comic book adaptions. That said, the scenes were fewer in number, but greater in content, so I can’t complain. The intuitive teamwork of a team that has worked together for centuries comes across really well in the choreography
+ the varied personas in the titular team are important and intertwined in the story, but never come across as pandering. I even found myself wanting more backstory on the team, to the point where I’ll be seeking out the comics to learn more

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– with that desire for more of a backstory, some of the ‘flashbacks’ prove more interesting than the main movie, and one particularly out of place anti-religion dialogue feels jarring compared to the rest of the film. Again, maybe that will make more sense if and when I get around to reading the source material

> just recently on free TV was the 2003 The Italian Job remake, and I just couldn’t place Charlize Theron’s face at the time. A quick Google of Theron’s numerous looks throughout her roles really highlights her range; bald and grease-paint death machine in Mad Max: Fury Road; blonde bun and uptight attitude in Prometheus; ice cold demeanour and regal attire in Snow White and the Huntsman; ratty hair with drugs and sociopathy in (the fantastic) Monster. I think she deserves more respect, not unlike the common perception of Christian Bale

Should you see this film: Overall this was more The Losers than The Avengers, but in terms of the more “realistic” superhero comic adaptions it was definitely one of the better ones. A standout cast and hard hitting action punctuate and elevate what could have easily been a standard comic book adaption.

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