What happens when you cross Marvel’s ‘Wolverine’ with ‘Highlander’, and then add in some spices from ‘The Extraction’? “The Old Guard”, a new gritty, action-packed Netflix original which could be the beginning of an outstanding franchise.
In “The Old Guard”, Oscar- winning actress Charlize Theron plays Andromache “Andy” of Scythia, an immortal warrior with a regenerative healing ability. She joins forces with Booker, Joe and Nicky, who share her divine ability and form a team of good-will mercenaries to help people. While fulfilling their duty, the team has been keeping their immortality a secret because the power had cost Andy to lose her first comrade and partner Quynh.
One fateful day, the team accepts an assignment from Copley, a former CIA operative, to rescue a group of kidnapped children in South Sudan. On their mission, they are attacked and killed by a squad of soldiers, only to be resurrected. They then kill their attackers. However, they find recording equipment and realise that Copley set them up to expose their apparent immortality. Because of this, Andy and her mercenaries will have to face their biggest villain in centuries: a pharmaceutical company who wants to make a fortune from selling immortality. They almost lose the battle, except their new recruit, a young United States Marine named Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) gets back control and they are victorious.
The concept of immortality with regenerative powers, doing heroic deeds is not really new, but we still have to face the fact that the director Gina Prince-Bythewood—the one behind Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights—has done a great job in her fresh superhero take. She does not go overboard on C.G.I., there is fast and fierce action scenes in “The Old Guard”, including regular swordplay and flashbacks in period garb. Showing the drawbacks of eternal life, which produces great angst, is convincing and it definitely will change people’s minds about having the ability to live forever.
The story, however, triggers viewer’s annoyance as there are too many secrets which are not revealed. For example, how did Andy and her teammates receive their power in the first place? And how could Nile suddenly become immortal? Who were the rest of the team before they joined her? Throughout the film which is 2 hours long, the immortals keep mentioning dates where something had happened to them, but none of these are explained. It may be good to arouse the viewers’ curiosity, but to take it that far with no explanation is annoying.
When it comes to the cast, Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne do a great job in bringing out both the action and the coolness of their female badass characters. Despite the differences in their experience, the two share a great chemistry and raise female superheroes to another level. The rest of the cast, however, don’t hold their own weight and seem to be in the way rather than being a supporting cast, except for Harry Melling, who does an outstanding job in playing a sadist, evil Marrick, CEO of a pharmaceutical empire (Melling plays Dudley Dursley in the Harry Porter films).
“The Old Guard” is an enjoyable film to watch, despite a few drawbacks. The ending strongly suggests that a sequel is around the corner. Maybe all the questions left hanging will finally be answered in the second film!
- Tags: Netflix