Film Review: The Old Guard

Review by Frances Winston

Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood – Starring: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Streaming on Netflix from July 10th

Having proven her kick ass credentials in movies such as Mad Max, Fast & Furious 8, and Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron gets another opportunity to flex her action muscles in this comic book adaptation.

She plays Andy, a centuries old warrior, who, along with a motley crew of other immortals, spends her long life defending the vulnerable in society. However, modern technology and communication make it harder than ever for them to keep a low profile, and they’ve come to the attention of a scientist who wishes to discover their secret of everlasting life, and he doesn’t care how he gets it.

I’m not sure if it was Prince-Bythewood’s intention, but, watching this, I was very much reminded of Highlander. Much like that classic film about immortals, this movie dips into the characters’ back stories through the centuries, in order to give them more substance.

Even the look of these sequences is very reminiscent of that movie. This gives Theron the opportunity to do more than just look stylish, while fighting the good fight. Without these flashbacks, her character would be in danger of being rather one dimensional and jaded.

In terms of her co-stars, KiKi Layne shines as Nile, a former soldier who has just discovered that she is immortal, and is coming to terms with her new life.

However, Chiwetel Ejiofor feels wasted here. He has little to do, and is never really given a chance to stretch his acting chops.

Ejiofor is not the only actor who feels somewhat miscast here, and although Prince-Bythewood is obviously trying to bring more depth to the story, the reality is that this film is all about the action, and when the focus is on that, this movie shines.

These scenes are incredibly choreographed, and all of the cast throw themselves into them, while Theron definitely gives male action heroes a run for their money.

This is incredibly stylish, and, despite a slow start, it soon picks up and doesn’t let up the pace. It is obviously trying to set up a franchise, and it would be interesting to see these characters evolve. However, it feels far too cinematic for small-screen viewing, and the next chapter would definitely benefit from a big-screen outing so the audience can fully appreciate the big set pieces.

Not as earnest as it wants to be, but not as silly as its premise suggests, in a Summer lacking the usual blockbusters due to the current CoVid crisis, this definitely fills a gap, and clocking in at under two hours it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

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