The Old Guard: Netflix Film Review

The Old Guard

Netflix is entering into the comic book-inspired action movie market with The Old Guard and I think we’ve found ourselves an interesting new franchise.

The Old Guard stars Charlize Theron as Andy, the leader of a covert group of immortal mercenaries who have carried out many missions over the centuries. The team also consists of Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), who fought in the Crusades, Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and total newbie Nile (KiKi Layne), who discovers her immortality while serving as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. They are now under threat – pharmaceutical CEO Merrick (Harry Melling) has learned of their existence and wants to use their DNA to help fight disease.

A lot of us have reached the stage where we find origin stories quite boring, but this is thankfully not the case with The Old Guard. The way we are introduced to the characters was engaging and interesting and there was enough humour and action to keep viewers entertained. Some might argue there isn’t enough action in this two-hour movie but I think the balance is almost right. The action scenes are also well-executed, with Andy, armed with centuries of fighting practice, showing off her sweet skills.

I generally consider immortal characters to be quite dull because knowing they are invincible and can’t die takes away the stakes. However, The Old Guard makes you realise that not being able to die causes its own type of suffering, from aching loneliness to being used as a lab rat or being trapped in a never-ending torture device. Their wounds might heal super fast, but they still feel pain and experience emotions. The movie does get quite dark and sad in places but this is offset by some light moments and well-choreographed action scenes.

The star of the show is obviously Theron, who is such a natural at both the action and the emotion. She nails the physicality of the role as well as portraying the tiredness and weight of responsibility Andy has endured all these years (her age is unknown). She is equally matched by Layne, who shines as the audience’s window into this new world. She struggles to accept the new hand life has dealt her so I think in the inevitable sequel she will really get to excel. Melling was suitably menacing and the rest of the team were solid performers. My only issue was with the arcs of Booker and Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a former CIA agent, but that’s down to the screenplay.

The Old Guard may not do anything particularly new or reach the high standards of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but Gina Prince-Bythewood has delivered an engaging adaptation of Greg Rucka‘s graphic novel. It has clearly been designed as the start of a new franchise and I, for one, am here for it.

Released on Netflix on Friday 10th July

Rating: 3.5/5

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