Set in modern times, “The Old Guard” stars Charlize Theron as Andy, a millennia old warrior who cannot die. Through thousands of years, she, and those like her, fought for causes they felt to be right around the globe.
Pro – Gun-Fu
Having lived for thousands of years means that Andy and her crew have been fighting alongside the advancement of weaponry. It follows that they are well versed in guns, blades, and hand-to-hand fighting. This leads to some wild scenes as the crew takes on baddies with machine guns, pistols, and an Arkadian Axe.
The members of Andy’s Old Guard crew can be hurt, wounded, and even killed for a short time, but their wounds always heal, and they come back to life shortly after “dying.” It lends plausibility to some of the risky and bold moves that other movies have their protagonist do, just because. The result is some intense, not for the faint-of-heart, action that is certainly exciting to watch.
Pro – I Need a Hero
Theron is an immensely talented Academy-Award winning actress. She’s also used her athletic build to launch a pretty successful action career as of late. She’s really mastered the tough as nails, emotionally distant heroine role in films like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and”Atomic Blonde.” She’s really good as Andy, a woman so old she can’t remember how old.
Kiki Layne is excellent as Nile, the newest member to join the group. She discovers her power after being “killed” in Afghanistan on a Marine recon mission gone wrong. Her entry into the group serves as the audience’s window into learning about the crew and their gift.
Harry Melling plays Merrick, the evil bio-tech genius. I don’t know how much is Melling and how much is the writing, but it’s a terrible role full of all the worst 2-D tropes.
Con – Unrealized Potential
As a concept, “The Old Guard” is cool. It is not original per-say, see “The Highlander” and “Wolverine,” but it’s interesting. It’s best bits are when it leans into the hazards and dangers of immortality. The discussions about losing loved ones and the fear of getting captured when one can’t die are really interesting.
The problem is, the script doesn’t carry it’s weight. The movie is often slow and plodding. The bad guys have no real character. The couple of twists and turns in the film seem arbitrary and half-baked. With so much fertile ground, especially for a film that clearly wants to be one of many in a franchise, “The Old Guard” sputters through two hours.
Perhaps that plan is part of its problem. It’s punctuated with an occasional cool fight scene or thought-provoking moment of exposition, but most of the film is dull and flat. It’s unfortunate because the idea and star-power was there for something truly wonderful.
“The Old Guard” has moments. Unfortunately, the story is boring. Excellent acting and fun action can’t fix that. It’s not a horrible way to spend two hours, but it’s not a great way either. That said, this clearly seems like a franchise vehicle that Netflix is keen on making happen. Much like its immortal heroes, “The Old Guard” will be come back whether we, or they, like it or not.