Film Review: The Old Guard

Note: This is film #71 of my 365 film challenge

Charlize Theron heads up this interesting action flick as one of a gang of immortal mercenaries. She plays Andy, a centuries old warrior who wants to fight for a better world but is becoming increasingly disillusioned. She and her three allies work as a team in secret, changing identity and avoiding working with the same people twice to avoid exposure. However, they break their rule to work with an ex-CIA agent who tasks them with rescuing a group of Sudanese schoolgirls who have been kidnapped. It turns out to be a trap, and their deaths and subsequent resurrections are caught on camera.

Andy and the guys have to work out who wants to expose them and why, try and protect their secret and deal with Nile Freeman (KiKi Lane), a US Marine who is the first new immortal in 200 years, having been resurrected after having her throat slit. The group are all connected psychically, and are aware of her passing. Shunned by her fellow marines, and confused about what happened, she is extracted by Andy and must learn what her abilities mean for her future.

I really dug this movie, which keeps the nature of the characters’ resurrections a complete mystery, with one character describing them as “supernatural” but nothing else. It’s an engaging action flick and Theron is on great form as the badass leader, a warrior who is tired after several lifetimes of fighting.

The team are all solid, and you believe their relationships with each other. Familiarity and affection imbues their scenes. Best executed is the couple of Nicky and Joe (Luca Marinelli and Marwan Kenzari), a strong loving relationship right at the heart which is handled really well.

I was worried about the fact that the heroes come back from the dead, that it might make this unengaging or eliminate the sense of danger. But it’s handled well enough, with the fear of being experimented on, constantly killed and revived, harvested for samples is almost more horrifying than the spectre of death and there’s also the fact that their immortality isn’t permanent. That for reasons they don’t understand it wears off, they stop healing and they can die.

Harry Melling is effectively odious as the villain, a big pharma exec who wants to discover the genetic information behind their longevity in order to create new wonder drugs and get even richer.

The action scenes are slick and have a certain understated brutality to them, and the story is interesting, different and extremely entertaining. The open ending hints at a sequel, and frankly, this is a world I’d happily return to for another fast paced, emotionally resonant action adventure. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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