The Old Guard is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and stars an elaborate cast led by Charlize Theron. It tells the story of a bunch of Immortal warriors who have been protecting humankind for more than 1000 years.
The group is led by Andy (Charlize), the oldest one; Nicky (Luca Marinelli), a Crusader and the lover of Joe (Marwan Kenzari), an ancient warrior who had participated in the Crusades, and Booker (Matthias Schoaenaerts), the youngest immortal, who once fought under Napolean.
Each of them appeared and joined the group at vast intervals. Andy, being the most experienced, is the esteemed one in the team. There were a few more, of which one was very dear to Andy. To her misfortune, she was trapped, tortured, and later on submerged in the ocean for suffering brutal, recurring deaths. As a consequence of the tragedy, they all dread capture and operate covertly.
Ultimately, a hoodwinked mission imperils them to a maniacal pharma tycoon (Harry Melling), who is keen on cashing their regenerative healing abilities. Before Andy and her men could deal with the situation, things become more complicated as a new immortal (Kiki Layne) comes into sight and needs safeguarding before the government publicly learns their secret.
This is an arresting premise for a film that is mainly purposed as a setup. The Old Guard is based on a graphic novel written by Greg Rucka, who also happens to be the screenwriter of the film. As refreshing and opportune it is, it is a bummer that Rucka could not pen a screenplay that had made The Old Guard a standalone movie.
Comprising of a story that feels motivated by the traits of a famous X-Men character (Wolverine!!), this could have been a derivative smudge. There are various films and TV series that serve as an extension of something else, with only a few standouts. Rucka’s story is, contentedly, thick. The characters are diverse, well-fleshed out, and the depiction of living an immortal life is pragmatically accurate.
Many scenes make you wonder about the actuality of the situation if immortals lived among us. How will we approach them? How inhuman can we be with them? Whether they will eternally be treated as a lab rat, or will they get acceptance? The film answers these questions pretty well, which I find missing from the majority of the superhero films released off-late.
Yet, the film squanders by the end, mainly for it stops focusing on such pivotal aspects, around the halfway mark, and reroutes to a very conventional approach, having barrelful of clichés, and intentionally leaving some doubts to explain in the sequel.
Till the one hour mark, things play out well. The film subverts the expectations as opposed to the unnecessarily over-expository trailer. Instead of functioning like a by the numbers action film, the film encapsulates solid, poignant scenes that establish the arc of Nile (the new Immortal) very well. A kickass fist-fight staged in a cargo plane pits hers and Theron’s credence against one another, and its the finest the film comes to offering engaging action.
Post this, the narrative slowly derails and turns into a substantial collapse. The character motivations change all of a sudden without convincing logic. Good guys turn dubious while bad guys become sympathetic. Such general, run-of-the-mill movie logic thwarts your engagement and makes you want to get done with the film asap. The dash of interest left by that time is merely for finding out the fate of one specific character, who, no spoilers, undergoes an unanticipated mutation.
The film had a strong potential to be a satisfying, standalone superhero film, specifically for an OTT release. To its luck, it benefits with the scarcity of new releases. Had the pandemic ended by now, this would have been a bigger disappointment, for it was to release in cinemas.
Be that as it may, The Old Guard is a one-time watchable superhero film that offers hard-headed reasoning for its characters’ backstories rarely seen in films of its genre. It has an engaging first half and the star-power of Charlize Theron, who is both physically and expressively committed to her role.
The action scenes are well-staged, but the jittery camerawork and strange music choices (a lot of songs are used in place of a score) make them merely serviceable. The film also wastes two of its actors (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Harry Melling), who otherwise play their part nicely.
Fans of the source material won’t complain much for Rucka himself wrote the screenplay, and many things (the dialogues, setpieces, artifacts) are accurate to the books. For others, it is just one of the better ways to kill time and feel okay about their Netflix subscription.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Have you seen The Old Guard? What did you think of its ending? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.