Spoilers will get some popcorn.
I’m a bit saturated on dark, depressing horror lately so I was looking forward to a cool, slick, fun action film. This is a step in that direction, although I do think it has even greater potential and being that this is possibly going to be the first of a franchise, it has the chance to develop it. That being said, this first outing can be enjoyable to watch. I would just recommend you make some popcorn as well.
The Old Guard (2020) was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood based on the screenplay written by Greg Rucka, author of the graphic novel which this is based on. A group of mercenaries is ambushed by a CIA operative. After they’ve been killed by a barrage of bullets they suddenly get up again and kill their attackers. The group is composed of Andy (Charlize Theron), Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) who are all immortals that have lived for centuries. After the ambush the team collectively dreams of a new immortal, an American Marine named Nile (KiKi Layne).
Nile is basically the rookie, although she’s a hardcore marine she’s outmatched when she meets Andy. Then again, Andy is Andromache The Scythian, she has countless centuries of experience over Nile. I did believe their chemistry as the new recruit and the veteran. Nile is not a boring character and Layne’s performance is solid, but Charlize’s Andy really carries the movie from beginning to end.
The plot is easy to follow and for the most part a bit predictable but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Yes, Booker is obviously the traitor from the moment it begins. It’s easy to tell since they meet former CIA operative James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – they’ve been sold out. The whole Merrick big pharma company thing is expected and does humanize our character. The villain, a high-tech guru CEO named Steven Merrick (Harry Melling) was basically discount Jesse Eisenberg. He was just basically a punchable face to hate.
The fighting choreography was impressive, but the one that I loved the most was between Joe, aka Yusuf Al-Kaysani, and Nicky, aka Nicoló di Genova. They’re mortal enemies turned lovers, and they have excellent chemistry but their fighting choreography was the best to watch. I don’t want to undermine Andy, she’s a force to be reckon with. It’s just the synergy between Joe and Nicky in which one would cut enemies down with a blade and then switch to a shotgun casually handed out by the other was just seamless and it’s something we rarely see – real partners in love and war.
It has some great moments. Joe’s speech about Nicky being more than his boyfriend while Merrick’s own private SWAT team watches awkwardly could have gone either way. Marwan Kenzari who plays Joe, performed in very humane and loving way. I knew the kiss was coming, it was practically setup – without that emotional speech it would’ve felt cheap and almost pandering. With it, it just established both characters as three-dimensional people.
Since it’s based on a graphic novel that has more volumes, there’s potential to explore the characters further. I really would have liked to see more of the backstory of all of them. We get some scenes with Andromache and Quynh, a character that might have a larger role to play. I wanted to see more of their past as well as the rest of characters… But that’s because this movie unavoidably makes me recall an older film franchise with a similar premise, albeit a different feel.
Recommended for some fun action and solid performances with a few reservations. I don’t mind the violence, but I felt that with the premise you could have had the immortals rely more on their melee weapons than insane amounts of firepowers. I don’t have anything against guns in movies, but when these immortal warriors can brandish sword and ax, I really would have love to see those used almost exclusively. All that being said, I’d say this is still a fun movie to watch and more than likely the start of its own movie franchise.
That will do for now.