The Old Guard may be a kick-ass action film but the idea of living forever also doesn’t come as easy as we might think upon first glance.
Andy (Charlize Theron), short for Andromache the Scythian, leads a covert group of mercenaries and they’ve been protecting the world for hundreds of years. All of them come from a background in martial arts or they military and they also cannot die. It’s also a curse because the characters have to live with so much death–all because of immortality. If you can buy into this idea of living forever, the film works.
But just like any group with unexplained abilities, they’re abilities are only bound to be exposed on a mission. Former CIA operative Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) brought them the mission, which would later bring unfortunate news. When they are exposed, Andy and new recruit Nile (KiKi Layne) take charge. Nile is a former American Marine and she’s recently new to this kind of life where you live forever. Other members of the group include French soldier Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a pair of Crusaders from opposite sites, Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). There’s an outside threat in the form of pharmaceutical executive Merrick (Harry Melling) that not only wants their power but wants to profit off of it, too. Ah, capitalism.
Andy uses her warrior skills to protect mankind. It’s necessary especially when it comes to saving lives. Yes, she’ll kill a person if it means saving a countless number of others. But aside from that, the biggest question to ask is what does it mean to live forever? There’s certainly a think-piece worth exploring. With all the tragedies that the world has witnessed, one can’t help but wonder if they have some guilt when it comes to living centuries upon centuries. Does it haunt them and if so, for how long? Some food for thought, of course.
Charlize Theron can do it all and this film is no exception. Sure, I want to see her in more comedies because she can pull it off. In terms of kicking ass–yup, the actress can do this, too. She did this in Atomic Blonde a few years ago–another film adapted from a graphic novel series. As far as Theron kicking ass, I must admit that I like Atomic Blonde better. Sadly, the film went under the radar due to Wonder Woman coming out a few weeks earlier.
As much as Charlize gets to shine, KiKI Layne does as well. After seeing her in the moving drama If Beale Street Could Talk, the actress shows that she has the range to perform in an action, film, too. Nile isn’t a sidekick but is being groomed to be a future leader.
Greg Rucka adapts the script from the graphic novel series co-written with artist. Leandro Fernández. It’s one way of ensuring that the script stays to to the author’s vision. Having Gina Prince-Bythewood behind the camera means that characters like Andy and Nile could be further fleshed out in terms of feeling authentic. It’s nice to see a female-helmed action once more. I feel like we don’t get these opportunities enough.
The handheld cinematography lends a certain flavor to The Old Guard that you probably couldn’t get otherwise. It works for this film where it might not necessarily work for others.
The way that 2020 is going, The Old Guard may very well be one of the few comic book or graphic novel adaptations we get for the rest of the year. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it more or less tells us something about the state of movie goers. Releasing a film on streaming is a safer bet right now than releasing a film exclusively in theaters.
DIRECTOR: Gina Prince-Bythewood
SCREENWRITER: Greg Rucka
CAST: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo, with Matthias Schoenaerts, and Chiwetel Ejiofor