July 9, 2020

SCREEN | Charlize Theron Outlives 'The Old Guard'

"It's not what time steals. It's what it leaves behind."
Van Veronica Ngo Charlize Theron Greg Rucka Gina Prince-Bythewood | The Old Guard Netflix
Skydance / Denver & Delilah Films
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood brings levity to the comic book action in The Old Guard based on the graphic novel series of the same name created by Greg Rucka who adapted the film's screenplay himself. Charlize Theron (also a producer) stars as the leader of a badass group of near-immortal warriors in a fun but very violent assassin adventure (in the gun-fu mold of John Wick).

Co-starring KiKi Layne as the newcomer (and audience surrogate) Nile, a conflicted U.S. Marine, her character struggles to make sense of her mysterious connection to the titular army of ageless soldiers (think Wolverine) unknown to her. Heartthrob Matthias Schoenaerts as Theron's lieutenant brings a weary gravity to the history of our characters in the middle of their thousand-years series of mercenary missions to keep the world stable.

Both Chiwetel Ejiofor and Harry Melling as shadowy antagonists have silly comic book-y motives to their attraction to the group but serve to get the action rolling. Much of it feels relatively straightforward despite the high concept and flashbacks to different historical eras. However, things do start to move towards a big setup for future sequels we may never see.

What makes Prince-Bythewood's direction feel so exciting is the smooth, crisp geography of her choreographed action sequences. The Old Guard stages a refreshing mix of familiar superhero-style storytelling, elements of non-sensical but amusing turn of the millennium blockbuster fare, and international casting. Its scope is big, spanning continents and historical eras, yet small in its very immediate, "evil scientist"-type stakes.

The Old Guard is available to stream on Netflix.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Polygon

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