Netflix’ latest mashes up The A-Team meets Highlander in Charlize Theron‘s latest kick-ass chick, immortal, action heroine vehicle. With a bit of obligatory John Wick beat-em up, shoot ’em up. And some proper actors. Maybe Chewetel Ejiorfor and Matthias Schoenarts took a wrong turn out of the rehearsal rooms of a Lyn Ramsay drama? All this is adapted from a graphic novel.
Released before the Current Unpleasantness, Netflix throws in plenty of style, action, locations and star names but somehow put the script through a mangle. The Old Guard walks a tight rope of a grown up graphic novel adaptation and frequently falls into the pit. But it’s okay, the characters are mostly immortal (except for the endless supply of henchmen).
Said immortals have been doing the Lone Ranger thing for centuries. To be honest, they’re all getting a bit fed up with it, and royally hacked off when ambushed by rogue CIA agent Copley (Ejiofor). After US Marine Nile Freeman (an outstanding Kiki Layne) gets made over as the newest immortal, Andromache (Theron) – yes, that one – goes to round up the newest and most reluctant recruit.
As the antagonist, Harry Melling’s immoral mad scientist Merrick is bat-sh** crazy, but that’s fine, as Big Pharma is one of those soft targets we can call villains these days without upsetting anyone. Or it was, before C-19 made science a bit of a priority.
Theron has the star quality to lift this above Mila Jovovich daftness and evidently likes to do all the physical action. It’s not as gratuitous as Atomic Blonde, has some of the slickness of the underrated Aeon Flux, but on the whole, you’d rather watch Gina Corano give it some grit in a Soderbergh script like Haywire.
This is very much a Theron project – she’s listed as producer and brought in a female director, Gina Prince Blythwood, better known for serious dramas to give the female characters some proper direction.
The script is a bit ramshackle and despite some weighty actors’ best efforts, lacks conviction, not helped by a few stodgy Highlander-style historical flashbacks. Time was, There Could Be Only One. Now there’s five of them, which adds up to five times the amount of moaning about how tough it is being immortal. It also has too many loose threads and sequel set-ups for the Immortal A-Team which may or may not happen.
Can somebody please advise Netflix to stop buying the rights to everything, or at least think carefully about which ones to produce? What’s next? Noddy and Big Ears: The Revenge? RC
The Old Guard (2020)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writers: Greg Rucka
Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Running time: 125mins
Cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo