by Ian Morton
The Old Guard is a comic book adaptation that does little to break the mould, but just enough to at least hold your attention for its shockingly long run time.
Charlize Theron plays Andy, leader of a mysterious band of immortal mercenaries that have a very particular set of skills at liberating war zones. We know she is the leader due to her alpha faculties, her impressive ability to head shot without looking down the sight of a gun and an unfathomable skill at identifying the regional origin of different types of Baklava.
The rest of the team are exactly what you would expect; the scholar who excels at using the internet, the philosopher that talks in cryptic one liners and that one guy that fits somewhere in between – each perfectly placed to explain the varying themes of life, death, war and heroics.
After a new immortal warrior is born (or more appropriately, comes back to life after a pretty fatal neck wound), the meticulously private team are thrown into disarray as their hidden lives are exposed and they find themselves on the hunt for the people wanting the secrets to eternal life.
What the film does well is sheath itself in a veil of mystery regardless of the fact it’s quite obvious what’s behind the curtain. It’s not hard to guess where the story is going but the interest lies in the questions raised as it moves to an obvious conclusion. Delving into the complexities of immortality, the film plays with characters and motivations in curious ways, having them act unexpectedly in typically dire situations. It’s a strangely fresh way to approach well worn material.
The film’s key strength is in its casting, Theron making the most of her electric screen presence and thriving in the action heavy scenes the actor is well known for mastering in the past. Kiki Layne plays it cool as newcomer, Nile, getting to grips with the future she was unprepared for, while Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli round off the intriguing and well balanced team.
All in all, if you’re au fait with the comic book genre in the slightest, The Old Guard will do little to shock or surprise you. For all its familiarity, it’s put together solidly and does take some time to think about its subtext in ways that other films brush over. Make no mistake, this is a Netflix film through and through, but one that will give you something to ponder over the weekend.
The Old Guard is on #Netflix now!!
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