The Old Guard
The Old Guard is exactly the type of R-rated summer fun that is needed to be consumed, mixing an interesting concept with decent action and adventure. The film struggles to feel anything but one-note at times, yet I can't stop hoping for a sequel. It's a mixed bag of effective fun and familiar thrills.
Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s The Old Guard is the latest Netflix film to take the world by storm, streaming exclusively on the platform as of this past Friday, bringing to the audiences a dose of R-rated action blended with graphic novel roots that features Charlize Theron (yet again) kicking all sorts of ass, only this time with the help of some fellow immortal beings.
The Old Guard follows a group of immortal beings, led by Charlize Theron, as they navigate the world, attempting to restore balance when deemed appropriate. These beings are immortal in the sense that they don’t die immediately by usual deaths, such as gunfire or drowning or being burned alive. Some of them have been around for thousands of years, while others are within the last couple hundred years.
The history on these beings is a little fuzzy, with most living normal lives until suddenly what would have been a normal death, brings them back. The latest in this group is Niles (KiKi Layne), a US soldier that suffers a throat slit only to notice it has somehow healed. This leads to her encounter with Andy (Theron) and the group of immortals.
Unfortunately for them, they are being hunted down by a pharmaceutical corporation that has discovered their secret and wants to turn them into lab rats while finding the cure to mortality.
I must say, The Old Guard felt like a massive breath of fresh air amongst a somewhat letdown of a summer, movie-wise. Obviously we can’t be picky given the circumstances, but man does this film hit hard in terms of delivering on its premise and then some. It’s a straight-up R-rated action flick, based on a graphic novel and pumped with a budget and a stellar cast that pushes the material past its somewhat simple concept.
There’s nothing groundbreakingly amazing about The Old Guard, but when it hits — it hits hard. And by that I mean that it occasionally captures these perfect moments of high-concept action that is meshed together with some decent character-building that makes you feel all sorts of happy.
But then the film bounces back-and-forth, attempting to try to shed some light on the history of the characters and dive into their past lives and struggles, but it never allows itself the proper time to explore anything of value. This pushes the film back into the corner of just being an action movie, which it excels at, but kind of becomes repetitive and predictable.
Look, I’m not expecting something like The Old Guard to blow my socks off with its reveals or story shifts, but I am expecting some sort of proper building on everything that we have seen beforehand, yet the film just kinda moves in a straight line, leaving little room for excitement or surprise.
That’s mostly fine, because Theron, Layne and the rest of the immortal bunch are awesome and extremely likable, cracking jokes, yet becoming bad asses again and again, despite you thinking that maybe this is the time they will fail. The film relies so heavily on Theron’s natural ability to lead the team and make the film hit hard when it could have otherwise provided you with a gentle tap.
But those cracks start to appear as the film reaches its conclusion and nothing was really solved, just another mission among the thousands of missions that they have taken on with somewhat ease, only this time the bad guy got a little closer than most.
And that leaves the film in a weird place. I liked the film, but did not love it as much as I thought I would, yet I can’t wait for them to get back at us with a sequel, because I feel that there are so many stories that they can tell. The flashbacks are brief, yet expose so much material that needs to be revisited and shown. I could see them taking this series in all sorts of directions, either sequels or prequels that give us a better look at the characters and their own struggles throughout the ages.
I have no problems recommending The Old Guard, being that it is a Netflix movie and you either have the streaming platform and should probably watch it or you don’t and can either decide if you should sign up and binge-watch a few flicks or forget about it entirely. If I was you, I would definitely check the film out as it has a lot of potential for future installments and as-is, it provides enough entertainment in its two-hour running time to satisfy most action-movie junkies’ appetites. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it should definitely keep your mind occupied for a short period of time. Let’s just hope that if this property is revisited that they will maybe spend a bit more time on the script and advancing its characters, while also maintaining that same sense of action.