The Old Guard movie review (2020)

Netflix’s latest action flick, The Old Guard, blends solid action with an interesting premise and good characters. It also shows a ton of potential for future entries in this series.

In a year plagued with very little film releases, I’m doing the best I can to watch any movie that is available. Netflix’s latest original, The Old Guard, was one I had on my radar for quite some time. Mainly, it’s because I’m a huge fan of Charlize Theron and everything she does, but also because, as mentioned, I miss movies. Anything I can watch is a minor win at this point. So, how is The Old Guard? Well, for the most part, I really enjoyed it. Mind you, I’ve never read the source material, so I’m completely ignorant in that regard. I’m reviewing this solely on what I thought of the film.

It tells the story of a group of immortals who have been living for hundreds (even thousands) of years, some more than others. It seems they’re trying to get by in today’s world without being spotted, but someone is on to them. After being tricked into a mission by CIA agent James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), they now know that some people know they exist. Trying to deal with that while also learning of someone new who has the same powers and abilities as they do, they must get to her while also avoiding being captured by the group who now knows of their existence.

As you can see, the premise is a very interesting one and I believe the majority of the film conveys this plot in a very convincing and entertaining way. The performances help quite a bit in this aspect, especially from Theron (Andy/ Andromache of Scythia) and KiKi Layne, who plays the newfound immortal, Nile, a former U.S. Marine. The other three members, Booker/ Sebastian Le Livre (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe/ Yusu Al-Kaysani ( Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky/ Niccolo di Genova (Luca Marinelli) also have interesting story arcs when you learn of their history and how they’ve gotten to where they’re presently are.

But, without a doubt, the characters who are the most compelling and the most developed are Andy and Nile. Andy is a very interesting one since she’s been around the longest. The way I see it, she has an internal conflict because she’s been around for so long. The thought of never dying can be exciting for some, but I can imagine going through so many years of life, you’ll eventually get tired of living. For example, growing attachments and relationships to people only to outlive them time and time again sounds very depressing. I think that’s what Andy is sort of going through and I can imagine the other three members sort of feel the same sometimes.

As for Nile, her internal conflict is completely different. Basically, she has to forget everything she knows since her life has completely transformed from one day to the next. She literally just found out she can’t die, which not only makes her a target, but it also changes her personal life forever. For example, her relationships with her friends and family could probably never be the same. It’s probably very surreal for her, and you can see it in KiKi’s performance, which makes it all the more intriguing to watch.

The action is very good in some scenes, but I feel it could’ve been done a bit better in terms of how it was shot. I guess I’m a bit biased and spoiled after seeing other action movies do it so well, such as Extraction and the John Wick series. The best fight scenes are the ones where Theron is involved. Being she’s the main attraction, it makes sense she’s the one with the best sequences. Plus, she’s been around the longest so the experience definitely shows.

The story is good and a very interesting one, but as much as it works, I feel it could’ve worked even better. I think The Old Guard could’ve worked much better as a TV series. Obviously, there are a ton of ideas here based on the source material and I know there’s more than likely a sequel in the works. But, with a 10-13 episode season, I feel all these ideas could’ve been fully realized in a much more creative way while also improving on the character development and the history of these characters. I would’ve loved to have seen some flashbacks of where they’ve been in history. Booker fought under Napoleon, while Joe and Nicky were part of the Crusades. As you can see, they play a huge role in history and seeing that would be great.

The villain in the movie isn’t the best. He’s the very generic greedy, rich white man who’s trying to accomplish something in order to move something forward. What Copley does is wrong, of course, but the ideas behind his methods do make sense in the grand scheme of things. However, Steven Merrick (Harry Melling) is simply greedy and a bad person. But, I feel we’ve seen this kind of character before and there’s nothing here that makes him stand out.

The Old Guard is definitely worth your time. I think it could’ve worked a bit better as a series in order to tell the story in the best way, as well as explore all the ideas the source material has to offer. However, I think it’s one of the better Netflix original movies. I hope they up the action a bit in the sequel, but regardless, I’m looking forward to it.

Score: B

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