REVIEW: ‘The Old Guard’ is a Summer Blockbuster with Heart

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The Old Guard

There have been some exciting comic book and graphic novel adaptations from streaming platforms from the past year. Now, The Old Guard is making it way to Netflix with Charlize Theron as the lead. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood with a screenplay by comics icon Greg RuckaThe Old Guard is an action fantasy film based on the graphic novel series of the same name which was written by Rucka and illustrated by Leandro Fernandez. The film is a gritty, grounded, and action-packed story that shows living forever is harder than it looks.

Not a stranger to comic adaptations, Theron plays Andy, a warrior who leads a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die. These mercenaries have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries, but when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (KiKi Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power.

From start to finish, The Old Guard goes full throttle with action, adventure, and just enough fantasy to keep you guessing. the standout of the film is the fact that Prince-Bythewood knows her way around action sequences. Additionally, it’s clear that she trusts her actors and their stunt doubles to put in the work of pulling of fight choreography without relying on an excessive amount of cuts which isn’t the case with many American action films, especially those with women in lead physical roles. From guns to swords and hand-to-hand combat, there is a diverse array of fight scenes that showcase the physical talents of the characters and adds to their personalities through their styles of fighting.

The Old Guard

That said, the cast of The Old Guard is phenomenal. With Theron playing the leader and Kiki Layne the newest immortal to join the fight, the two of them have electric chemistry, one of dueling master and student that never feels disrespectful to each other. Layne and Theron are both vulnerable and powerful in throughout the film. While they both are capable, strong, and fierce in battles, they have moments throughout the film that allow them to be emotional. The openness between the two characters is hard-fought and their bond becomes one of the top character elements of the film.

Additionally, The Old Guard features a diverse cast without ever feeling like its tokenizing its characters – a feat for blockbuster films and comics alike. While I fully admit that is a low bar, the representation in this film is well done and every ensemble character has small moments to distinguish them from the others and allow small doors for a future film to explore.

It also has to be noted one of the more emotional scenes in the film is a moment between Joe and Nicky, played by Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli respectively. When one of their characters tries to mock Joe’s concern for Micky, by asking if their boyfriend. But, Joe has a beautiful and passionate response in this small but prominent scene, he not only pushes back on the mocking nature of the “question” and asserts his love for Nicky as something beyond the simple term “boyfriend”. It’s a moment that is not only emotional but also striking. In fact, the queerness of The Old Guard is worthy of its own separate piece.

Now, here are some plot issues and the exposition used throughout the film is slightly heavy-handed. That said, The Old Guard shines in nearly every other aspect, including in adapting a much loved graphic novel with enough accuracy to satisfy fans yet enough difference to make it feel fresh. The film is also a great watch regardless fo your familiarity with the original graphic novel.

Finally, the door looks to be open for a sequel and I’m excited about the possibility. The Old Guard is a film that hits its action punches while also giving us intriguing characters who each hit more than just one note.

The Old Guard is available exclusively on Netflix on July 10, 2020.

The Old Guard
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

The Old Guard is a film that hits its action punches while also giving us intriguing characters who each hit more than just on note.