The Old Guard (2020)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writer: Greg Rucka
Starring: Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Veronica Ngo, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Plot: A group of immortal mercenaries is hunted down by a pharmaceutical company looking to forcibly take advantage of their healing abilities.
Review: If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll notice that I’m a little hard on Netflix films. While they’re shows often feel fresh and exciting, their original movie catalogue often feels like what used to be direct to video fluff. One or two good movies might make their way through, but for the most part I don’t get excited for Netflix originals. Even their most popular works like Bird Box, Extraction, and The Irishman leave me kind of mixed at best. So, I was skeptical when everyone started hyping up The Old Guard. The trailer didn’t sell me either, as it gave me intense Bloodshot vibes. But, I’m here today to tell you all that I was wrong. The Old Guard is freaking amazing. I really, really enjoyed it.
The most surprising element of The Old Guard to me was how strong the script was. Of course, once I looked into it a bit more I was no longer shocked. It was written by the same guy who wrote the comic book series this was based on. And, say what you will about comic books, but they often have time to pause and take a moment to really focus on character moments and the morality of what they are doing. As much as I like the big, flashy comic book movies, they often don’t have enough time to really get into that. The Old Guard does. We have several scenes of our heroes sitting down and contemplating what it means to be immortal, how lonely it is, and whether or not what they are doing is right. Those moments are always super important and super touching. It feels natural that a comic book writer would understand that and try to bring it to the adaptation. Oh, and the world-building is fantastic. This is only one movie, but, by the end, we understand who these characters are and, more or less, their whole backstories. It’s really impressive.
The other biggest positive take away from The Old Guard isn’t nearly as surprising. The action scenes are really, really good. Charlize Theron is a genuine asskicker. She’s proved it time and time again, in movies like Atomic Blonde and Mad Max: Fury Road. Well, she does it here again. (The fact that she’s also an Academy Award winning actress makes her OP as hell.) This time, though, she uses melee weapons, which, as I probably don’t have to tell you, are super cool. The fight scenes were so well choreographed and beautiful that I legitimately got excited whenever a new sequence started. It’s also noteworthy to point out that this is the action coordinator from Avengers: Endgame and Birds of Prey. Both of those movies had really cool fight scenes too, so, obviously, he knows what he’s doing. So, badass actress and a talented stunt team? Yeah. It’s not surprising that the action sequences work so well here. That doesn’t make them any less fun though.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed The Old Guard a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a really fun superhero-esque movie that isn’t afraid to take a break for deeper, emotional moments. It’s kind of the perfect balance between drama and action, to be honest. Plus, the world is a lot of fun. Think of it as a Wolverine movie, but with only the healing powers and not the adamantium skeleton. It definitely blew my expectations out of the water. I had a lot of fun watching it. Apparently, there’s already a sequel being made, which excites me because I definitely wouldn’t mind spending more time in this universe. Actually, I wouldn’t mind a series of five or six movies, if they’re all this good. Bring it on, Netflix.
TL;DR: The Old Guard mixes well choreographed action sequences with deep, emotional conversations to create a really strong, unique entry in the comic book movie genre.
Score: 8/10 (Great)