In recent years, there's this weird new category of films, where you find yourself giving sub-par movies a pass by admitting: "Well I'm glad I didn't pay for that in a theater, but you know, for a streaming release at home it's OK!"
That's not high-praise, but that's definitely where "The Old Guard" falls.
Based on the five-part graphic novels (an adult term for comic books) from writer Greg Rucka and artis Leandro Fernandez, the movie sets out to become a different sort of super-hero franchise. It definitely sees itself as an ongoing film saga, but "The Old Guard" doesn't feel like your average origin story, and drops you into the action right from the start.
Charlize Theron stars as bad-ass Andy - short for Andromeda - and is the leader of a group of mercenaries that try to keep themselves secret from the outside world. The reason for their secrecy is that these aren't your ordinary mercs...they are all immortal, in that they cannot die and they've been alive for eons. Well technically, they die, but only momentarily, and then, magically, their bodies begin to heal all wounds and then they snap out of it.
Their powers are sought after by a bad guy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) because that's sort of the villain's MO in movies like this. Our entry point as an audience into this world is via Nile (KiKi Layne), a marine who catches Andy's attention because she is the latest human to have "evolved" into unkillable status.
It's important to point out that this film - a superhero film - is directed by an African-American woman, Gina Prince-Bythewood, AND it features a same-sex relationship between two of the mercenaries, played by Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli. This is a progressive film on both sides of the camera.
The action sequences in "The Old Guard" are top-notch, but they almost aren't enough to overcome the really poor dialogue and characterization throughout the film...in the end, it ends up being worth it overall as a solid action movie.
You know, for a streaming film.
Genre: Action, Fantasy.
Run Time: 1 hour 58 minutes.
Starring: Charlize Theron, KiKi Lane, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Screenplay written by and based on the graphic novel series by Greg Rucka.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Beyond the Lights," "The Secret Life of Bees," "Love & Basketball").
"The Old Guard" is available on Netflix as of Friday, July 10th, 2020.
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