Like action? Love a back story? Do you dig Charlize Theron? Then this movie is for you!
Title: The Old Guard
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Genre: Action, Thriller, Violent.
Main Cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Lucas Marinelli.
Runtime: 125 mins
MDb rating: 6.7/10.
My rating: 6/10.
Quick summary: A small group of immortals that have lived through all the ages of the world welcome a new recruit. Unfortunately, the next immortal has arrived at a time when their very existence is under threat. Is immortality really worth it if you just die over and over again?
I read some reviews of this movie from bloggers on this site and also professional film critics in online publications. There seemed to be a general consensus that while the film wasn’t bad, neither was it good. Something that I have struggled with is leaving other people’s opinions behind me and just enjoying, or at least trying to enjoy, what I am watching in front of me. I wouldn’t be a very good reviewer if I let other people’s opinions sway me, would I?
We are introduced to Andy (Theron), Booker, Joe and Nicky in Sudan. We are led to believe that they are a band of mercenaries, hand-picking missions to save the vulnerable in any society. Copley (Ejiofor), a CIA agent, double-crosses them to try and reveal their secret that he believes he has found. They are actually a small group of immortals who have lived through countless decades and centuries doing what they know best: fighting for what they believe in. Our quartet of soldiers rise from their ambush and avenge their deaths, which they have seemingly done countless times.
Copley is working with Merrick (Harry Melling), a CEO of a British big pharma company who wants to harvest the bodies of the immortals in the hope of saving mankind from unnecessary diseases, or so he says.
Meanwhile, an American soldier in the middle East discovers that she too has the ability to not die from mortal wounds. She is recruited by Andy to join the group and leave her old life behind, for her own good as well as her family’s.
Without giving anything away, this movie is perfectly set up for a sequel. So, you can expect quite a bit of world-building. However, you are not inundated with the history of the characters. Nicky, Joe and Booker tell us how long they have been alive and which time periods they are from. We only get brief glimpses and snippets of where Andy originated. She says to Nile, ‘I was worshipped as a God once’, and some scenes show her in an Aztec-like headdress. The other characters call her ‘Boss’, so we can assume that Andy has been around for millennia. We are given just enough story on each character to interest us but little enough that we would watch a sequel to find out more. Also, to have characters from the modern age such as Nile and Copley there is a good contrast in culture and age.
I did have one or two problems with this, unfortunately. The film tried really hard to show how old Andy is. The problem is that we already know. We are shown scenes from mystical lands and harsh battlefields. We are shown Andy losing her one friend Qunyh in the Witch Trials in England. Then, as Andy goes to a pharmacy it is as if she has never been in a shop before. Granted, she has never needed bandages before, but she has been around for thousands of years. Surely she has heard of these things. She used a smartphone at the beginning of the movie with no difficulty, so it doesn’t really make sense.
The dialogue is a bit forced in places. Again, the film tries to hammer home that the protagonists are immortal. We see them get shot a hundred times and literally rise from the dead. We don’t really need any other aids to get that through our skulls.
Andy turns to the gang during the final battle and say, ‘Remember Sau Paulo in ’34?’
Nile, the newest member of the mercenaries says the words, ‘What happened in Sau Paulo in 1934?’
‘1834,’ comes the reply with a smirk.
I’m sorry but I had to laugh. Nile might as well have asked, ‘What happened in Sau Paulo in the year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty four?’
Us idiots sitting at home on our couches still don’t get how old Andy and the guys are. Can you cut off her leg and count the rings?
Sometimes filmmakers forget that we may have checked our brain at the door, but we haven’t lost all reason. Try something a little more complex with us next time.
That is why I am hopeful for the sequel. A cutscene shows us a comeback of an exciting character and one that deserves a proper storyline. Hopefully they don’t dumb down the jokes and allow us to piece things together for ourselves.
Come for the action-packed trailer and stay for the same reason. Charlize Theron excels again in an action role. There is untold violence in this movie so if that’s your bag, this is your flick.
If you want to get a peek as to what my podcast is like, check out the little bite-size review I did of this movie below!
If you like what you heard there then why not check out the rest of my podcast!