The Old Guard is a new Netflix action movie which proves that death is no longer the career setback it used to be.
Andy (Charlize Theron) is one of a rag-tag bunch of futuristic A-Team-style mercenaries who do nothing but go from job to job, killing bad guys and often getting bumped off themselves. However, for these ‘immortals’, it doesn’t take long before they somehow come back to life, even though they don’t know *why* it’s happening.
Although The Old Guard comes from a comic book, it’s basically Universal Soldier, but why not, given that only the first one in that series was any good, and the rest were pitiful. 2012’s Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning didn’t even have JCVD and Dolph share a scene!
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. They can die eventually, but it’ll take some time because they can effectively die almost countless times, and they never know when their time will come. As such, Andy’s always wondering if this time will be the one… when she doesn’t come back, which does rather make you wonder – why do they both putting their lives on the line when they could just live happily forever? And when they are doing job after job, why do they always have to live in a dirty cave? That always seems to be the case with this type of character.
Plus, as one becomes a UniSol (they’re not called that, but it’ll mean you get the idea), the others *feel it* as if they’re twins.
But there’s always a new supply of recruits to join in, as it doesn’t take long before they’re joined by Army soldier Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), who’s killed in action. Well, it’s more of a flesh wound… just a scratch, really. Although she’s listed as Nile in the credits, whenever there’s anyone in a film or TV show with the surname Freeman, I go all ‘Half Life‘ and declare, “AH! The FREE-man!”
The first job in this film is based in Morocco. Andy, et al, has to go to an operation in South Sudan, but states “We don’t do repeats. It’s too risky”. I was presuming it’s so people don’t see that the same mercs are back in town. This is backed up by the fact she accidentally gets in someone’s selfie and tries to get around that, as we see.
There’s a bit of double-crossing which is rather a nonsense, given how the plot – such that it is – seems to change its mind on the idea about five minutes later.
In lieu of a major baddie, we’ve got a man called Merrick (Harry Melling), an entrepreneur with big intentions. He’s the CEO for a company called Big Pharma who wants to harness this power by reversing the chromosomal clock of human stem cells, while the manipulation of the klotho hormone will also cure dementia. So, while he’s the ‘baddie’, he’s actually someone you want to root for because of the advancement of science… even if his eyes are rather too close together.
Along the way, Andy tells Nile how they got separated from another immortal, Quynh (Veronica Ngo, who appeared in the opening scene of The Last Jedi, as the sister of Rose. Yep, I’d rather Veronica would’ve stuck around), and we learn Andy is more a nickname. She’s actually named Andromache of Scythia, although by the time you’ve worked out how to pronounce it, (a) the film will be over, and (b) you’ll realise it doesn’t really matter.
The Old Guard has a nice fight scene between the two female leads while they’re on a plane, and overall, it’s rather Magnificent Seven-style nonsense, since on the downside, it’s plot by numbers and it does go on a bit too long. At two hours and a bit, it could lose about 20-25 minutes.
Hence, while this could spawn a sequel, if that happens I do hope they tighten things up a bit for next time. However, even though they can take bullets to the chest etc, and which takes them down for a short amount of time, why don’t they just wear body armour? That would save the downtime!
Plus, at one point, one of them says, “Everything happens for a reason.” Whenever anyone tells me that, I punch them in the face… (I don’t, really, I’m a good boy)
The Old Guard is released on Netflix on Friday July 10th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. However, you can buy the The Old Guard Book One: Opening Fire while The Old Guard Book Two: Force Multiplied Paperback can be pre-ordered ahead of its release date on September 22nd.
Running time: 125 minutes
Release date: July 10th 2020
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Producers: AJ Dix, David Ellison, Marc Evans, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Beth Kono, Charlize Theron
Screeeplay: Greg Rucka
Comic book: Leandro Fernandez, Greg Rucka
Music: Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran
Andy: Charlize Theron
Nile Freeman: KiKi Layne
Booker: Matthias Schoenaerts
Joe: Marwan Kenzari
Nicky: Luca Marinelli
Quynh: Veronica Ngo
Copley: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Merrick: Harry Melling
Dizzy: Natacha Karam
Dr. Meta Kozak: Anamaria Marinca
Jordan: Mette Towley
Lykon: Micheal Ward
Gita: Shala Nyx
Sadeq: Majid Essaidi
Keane: Joey Ansah
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.