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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

The Old Guard


The Old Guard -- a Review by Guy S. Malone, Researcher

First, let's take it as gospel that when Charlize Theron is in a movie, it's usually worth watching (Aeon Flux notwithstanding).  Not to give our assessment away up front, but just so you know.

Her new Netflix sci-fi superhero flick is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball and Beyond the Lights), the first Black woman to direct a big-budget film, and she proves herself a force for the future. She has fun source material to work with: Greg Rucka's graphic novel series that he is adapting for the screen.  His story is rich in mythology but firmly rooted in today's realities of predatory capitalism and man's inhumanity to man.  Which sets up our vicarious identification with a small band of immortal warriors that rights society's wrongs.

"The Old Guard" is a covert band of immortal warriors.  They owe allegiance to nothing but their own moral rectitude, They are mercenaries who pick and choose where and when to fight good fights.  Andy (Theron), the oldest and leader of the Guard, has tried to be secretive, but her feats have become legendary.  Her closest friend on the team is Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), the youngest but most intelligent--and most troubled--of the immortals.  Rounding out the crew are ancient compatriots and lovers Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli).  Andy feels an obsessive protectiveness of her crew since she lost her oldest ally, Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo) centuries ago, a burden she has carried ever since.  But that is just part of Andy's existential and moral baggage.

The plot engine begins to roll when a CIA operative named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hires them for a black-ops mission that goes awry.  Around the same time, another immortal is discovered: Nile (KiKi Layne) is a Marine who has been mortally wounded; miraculously, she not only survives but thrives.  Nile is the first new immortal Andy has discovered in centuries. She believes the botched mission and the newly discovered immortal mean something, but what?

This is a perfect role for Theron.  In quiet moments, she is subtle and pensive, and her easy grace is that of a jungle cat, one always on the watch and poised for action in an instant.  And action there is.  The fight scenes are choreographed things of beauty, though the battles, at times, stop just short of John-Wickian carnage.  The Belgian actor Schoenaerts is inspired casting.  He is a commanding physical actor who can match up to Theron onscreen, yet he also can switch his innate intensity to bare-wire sensitivity that is magnetic on the screen.  Kenzari and Marinelli are able sidemen who carry some humor as well as the film's romantic interest.  Harry Melling (Harry Potter's Dudley Dursley) even shows up in a pivotal role.  The weak link is Layne, who has improved since If Beale Street Could Talk, but placed opposite the likes of Theron, Schoenaerts, or Ejiofor, her line readings are exposed as absolutely oaken.  Unfortunately, it seems that she's been set up as one of the major players as the story moves forward.

And believe me, ladies and gents, if ever a film was set up for at least one sequel, this is it, a well-deserved sequel, in our minds.  The Old Guard is not great art; it's a graphic novel turned film that's fun.  FilmZ, the Czarina, Czarito Number One, and I haggled over a score and give it a charitable
7.0 out of 10

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