FILM REVIEW - The Old Guard
I’m making a mental note to spend more of my time actually reviewing films and this weekend I decided that I would sit down to watch one. There have been quite a few on my watchlist, but since it’s been a while I wanted to ease my way back into things and watch one on Netflix. The film in question is titled ‘The Old Guard’ and it was one of Netflix’s original films!
‘The Old Guard’ starts with a group of people, who are hired by an ex-CIA operative to rescue a group of hostages in Sudan. What the group don’t know is this is a set-up and when they infiltrate the base, they are seemingly massacred by a shooting squad. Except that this extraordinary bunch are immortal and soon come back to life to finish off their would-be murderers. The man who set them up, Copley, takes the video footage of them coming back to life to the CEO of a big Pharma, Merrick, who wants them captured so that he can use their DNA to figure out how to make himself a lot of money. Meanwhile, somewhere in Afghanistan, a group of American Marines is on a mission to find a wanted man. During the mission one of them, Nile Freeman has her throat cut but wakes up several hours later alive. Each member of the group, including Andy, their leader, Booker, Joe and Nicky all dream of Nile and realize that they’ve got to get to her before anyone else realizes that she’s another immortal. Naturally, Nile doesn’t understand what’s going on and when Andy turns up for her, the two women duke it out before Nile realizes that Andy may be her only option for finding answers. Nile is introduced to the rest of the group; Sebastian Le Livre (a.k.a. Booker) who was a soldier in Napoleon’s army, Yusuf Al-Kaysani (a.k.a. Joe) and Nicoló di Genova (aka. Nicky) were crusaders fighting against each other, and of course Andromache of Scythia (a.k.a. Andy) who has been around since 4700 B.C. Andy also tells Nile of others including Lykon, an immortal whose immortality ran out and Quynh, the first member that Andy met, who was resigned to a fate worse than death. When Merrick finds the group and captures Joe and Nicky, Andy takes Booker and Nile to rescue them. Can Andy rescue her compatriots? And at what cost does victory come?
So the cast of this film was a mix of known and unknown faces. Andy was played by Charlize Theron and if I had to choose someone to play a badass yet cynical character I’d have picked Theron too. She leads the film with an excellent performance. The majority of the rest of the group, Booker played by Matthias Schoenaerts, Nicky played by Luca Marinelli and Nile played by KiKi Lane were all new faces to me, but I thought they bought good performances to the film, especially Lane whose emotional journey in the film was well portrayed. Joe, played by Marwan Kenzari was the only familiar face having seen him in the 2019 ‘Aladdin’ remake where he played Jafar. This was a much different role, and I felt that if Kenzari had more screen time we would have been able to see greater nuances in his performance. Rounding the main cast were Harry Melling, of Harry Potter fame, as Merrick and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Copley. Now I’m not in any way criticising the film, but I’ve now seen Ejiofor, who I know is an excellent actor, in a number of what I would call low-significance films where he plays morally dubious characters obsessed with immortality. Who is this man’s agent? What are they trying to sell him? Ahaha!
So I had no idea when I watched this film that it was based on a comic book but now that I look back at it, it almost makes perfect sense. I largely enjoyed the film and the premise of the plot. I think the one aspect that perhaps I was cautious about was how the film would explain if these characters' immortality would be permanent and although it makes sense that it wasn’t, the way that it was explained in the film wasn’t great. Again, although I did like the characters, there was a lot to be desired when it came to their backstories. Each of them seemed interesting but it was difficult for viewers to feel any sort of emotion for any of them bar Nile. I know that a sequel is on its way, so I sincerely hope that there will be time for backstory otherwise it’ll be a bit of a waste!
Unlike a lot of the films I’ve been watching, the Old Guard required significantly less CGI work. Apart from the insane healing that the characters have, everything else seems to be shot scenes. This can sometimes be a good thing or a bad thing because action films are then judged on their fight choreography and The Old Guard does a fairly decent job. As with a lot of Netflix originals, there’s some location jumping which I’d like to see in the sequel. The music was probably one of the best aspects of the film. The entire time there is music accompanying scenes although the choice of songs is interesting! Ahah! Overall, this was a good watch and I’d like to see the sequel up the ante!
Cinematography: ★★ ½