The Old Guard, just another action movie about superheroes or a story with a lot of potential?
Based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard tells the story of a warrior called Andy (played by Charlize Theron), leader of a mercenary group with the mysterious inability to die that has been protecting the mortal world for centuries. When the group is hired for an emergency mission, their abilities will be exposed and Andry will find herself, with the help of Nile – the latest addition to the group (played by Kiki Layne) – in the middle of the action, trying to help the rest of the group against the threat of a firm trying to duplicate and monetize their abilities at any cost.
If like me, you loved Charlize Theron in the role of Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, you will definitely be intrigued by this new action movie with supernatural hints.
The story is pretty simple. Without spoiling anything, it’s about a team of immortals who find themselves in the middle of a double crisis: on one hand, the sudden appearance of a new recruit after centuries of solitude, and on the other a greedy pharmaceutical tycoon who’s convinced he can change the world – and make an earning – by studying and then duplicating the abilities of this team of superheroes.
Well yes, that is indeed what this movie is about, a team of superheroes.
In a time saturated by movies about the most well-known Marvel and DC Comics superheroes, betting on a new movie with the same subject matter might seem like a risky gamble for Netflix that might end up with the film getting lost in a sea of many other stories of very little substance and a lot of CGI. But just like for The Umbrella Academy – another TV show by Netflix and Gerard Way that follows the events of a family of superheroes – this time too what was needed for success was the magic of digital streaming to give a spark of originality to a subject that we’ve all become very familiar with and slightly bored of over the past decade.
The people who have already had the pleasure of watching this movie – yes, the pleasure! – won’t find it hard to list its virtues, and the ones who haven’t had the time yet to see it or aren’t sure if it’s worth the effort should let themselves be convinced by what this movie has added to the genre that, in my opinion, no superhero blockbuster before it has managed to bring.
A family of characters
What makes The Old Guard different from other action movies isn’t just the cast, full of diversity both ethnically and from the LGBTQIA+ viewpoint, but also the genuineness with which the relationships between the characters and the complexity of their immortal condition are addressed.
This movie fits squarely in the action genre, with a lot of scenes that some might see as a bit violent, but at the core of the narration, there’s a soul rich of humanity for a movie that talks about something that no person will ever get to experience: immortality.
On one side we find the oldest – but still breathtaking, thank you, Charlize Theron! – Andromache, who has long lost hope of finding an explanation for her immortality and has become disillusioned with the ability of the squad to really change the world for the better, and on the other we find the brand new Nile who finds herself thrown in a world she didn’t believe existed and that has to deal with the rest of her very long life, still full of hope that the gift that has been granted to her has a reason, a good reason that matters far more than her own existence.
The supporting cast
But if you’re still not totally convinced you should watch this movie, let me tell you about some of the other extraordinary characters who provide even more colour to the story from their place behind the main ones – but not too far in the background either.
Here we find Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), the second to last immortal, only a couple of centuries older than Nile, and who had to deal with the loss of everyone he loved because of his immortality and made some questionable choices for this very reason; and then there’s the wonderful Joe (Marwan Kenzari, recently seen in the role of Jafar in the Aladdin live-action) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli, yes, the exceptional Luca Marinelli), two immortal lovers reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, who met on opposing sides of the Crusades and who’ve been together since and offer a completely opposite interpretation from Booker’s, having had the fortune to find the loves of their lives in another immortal.
And last but not least, the astounding Quynh (Veronica Ngô Thanh Vân), with a painful past who shared some pleasant and not so pleasant times with Andromache.
Is it worth it?
We’ve talked about the many virtues of this movie, but it’s not without its flaws. The most evident being that, seeing as it is just the first in what will undoubtedly be a saga, it’s easy to imagine that the production could end up getting a little more freedom in the future to bloom beyond a genre that can be restrictive for the type of story it’s trying to tell. That aside, it remains a movie with great potential.
If you’ll give it a chance, it won’t take any time at all to get attached to rich characters full of nuances that will definitely make you hope you won’t have to wait too long for a sequel!