In the mood for a superhero action movie? Historical fiction? A supernatural flick? A war drama? Sci-fi/fantasy? A message movie? A hint of romance? A high-octane, double-dose of girl power? The Old Guard is all of the above. It stars Charlize Theron as Andy (aka Andromache of Scythia), the leader of a small army of immortal, centuries-old mercenaries who land in the present-day crosshairs of an ex-CIA operative and a cartoonishly evil big pharma CEO motivated by profits.
The mish-mash of genres dilutes the impact somewhat, but overall, the two-hour film delivers a surprising amount of action, heart and drama, elevated by the kick-ass performances of Theron (Bombshell, Atomic Blonde), and KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Native Son) as Nile, the newest soldier in Andy’s Army. Nile is also the first new recruit in a couple hundred years – prompting the question, ‘why her, and why now?’
Preposterous as it all may sound, the characters are quite relatable, in an Avengers sort of way. Work together century after century to save the world – over and over and over again – and you become like family. This particular family of death-defying do-gooders includes: Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts, Far From the Madding Crowd, A Bigger Splash, Rust and Bone), Joe (Marwan Kenzari, Aladdin, Murder on the Orient Express), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). They are a diverse yet close-knit team with utmost respect for their boss, and total empathy for the shell-shocked newbie Nile.
Immortality is a blessing and a curse for the purpose-driven warriors. Getting shot, blown up, run over, stabbed, etc. can get old – especially when the mortal world never seems to learn its lesson. Andy, in particular, is feeling jaded. She’s been at this the longest – a few centuries, at least. She’s like Wonder Woman, Deadpool and Bella Swan Cullen all wrapped into one.
Comic book writer Greg Rucka adapted the screenplay for The Old Guard from his 2017 graphic novel series, and Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, Love & Basketball) got the call to direct – her first big-budget action film. (Triple girl power!)
While The Old Guard tries to be a few too many things at once by way of introduction, it’s still a solid option for quaranstream home viewing with the potential to live on (and on) as a franchise, if the characters catch on. Let’s just say, that door is left wide open.
The Old Guard is rated R for violence, and maybe some language, but it’s not over-the-top. More like PG-13+. The film premieres on Netflix on July 10th.