Part of the common fatigue in comic film franchises is their equality. Every hero brags and confidently accepts physical strength as an assignment to shape the world as he sees it. And what choice does mankind have to rely on? The threats to which they are exposed are as strong or even more powerful than they are, and most often come from another planet, another dimension, a version from elsewhere that human governments do not want to get involved with. Regardless of where the problem comes from or when it arises, the solution involves a lot of punches, blows, and shootings.
“The Old Guard” on Netflix does not immediately reject all of these tropes. Ultimately, it is still an action film, one about a gang of extraordinary, almost immortal beings who do not age, cannot be killed and can heal quickly. But what a reader or audience may consider a blessing is a burden, if not a curse, to those who live with it and one that tacitly recognizes that they have little right to complain about it.
Cut them off with bullets, and a few moments later they̵
Restraint defines and elevates “The Old Guard” to something more than a typical superhero film in summer. When a defining characteristic of Marvel Cinematic Universe or DC Comics films is senseless escapism or the thrill of fantasy, “The Old Guard” deliberately turns the other way by putting his boots on the floor of reality. This insistence on remaining attached to the reality of being human and this world makes Charlize Theron’s Andromache the Scythian – Andy, her companion – one of the most refreshing characters in a genre that feels more and more saturated.
Andy has lived for thousands of years and, according to one of her companions, has forgotten more ways to kill than most armies have ever known. Despite her character, which dates back to ancient times, Theron Andy portrays resolutely as a woman at the time who is dedicated to her family and who is more determined at the beginning of the film to protect them all than to risk them through risky missions , no matter how noble the thing or trustworthy the source.
At their side are Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), who was picked up around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), a couple who met and fell in love after they fell in love again and again during the Crusades had killed. The quartet is content to keep its ranks tight until it discovers the rise of another immortal, a young U.S. Marine named Nile (KiKi Layne) based in Afghanistan.
Wherever superior beings exist, there must be people chasing them. Here the enemy is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company called Merrick, which British actor Harry Melling serves with a big hint of Martin Shkreli-like oilyness.
Though he and his personal death squad are cause for concern, Prince-Bythewood and Rucka decide to pay more attention to the bond that Andy and her brothers and sisters in arms share, especially when they force Nil to his knees.
Prince-Bythewood is not only making history here by being the first black woman to direct a superhero film on a large budget. It changes the paradigm of what such films can be and how their heroes can manifest. As Andy, Theron wears strength and sportiness, a hint of cynicism and tiredness that is carried away by hearts and intentions. The secondary of these senses leads her and her team to trust a mission given to them by a former CIA agent named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) that is predictably going sideways.
The storyline of “The Old Guard” is not too original, but if we focus our attention on who these characters are rather than relying on the impressive moves they can make, the film chooses to be rich in emotional resonance to be opposed to lousy with jokes and explosions.
And this characterizes history not by the seemingly superhuman strength of their heroes, but by the recognition of the limits of what they can do. It is not only their lack of numbers that keeps track of them, but also the time and way of life. Theron plays Andy with armored exhaustion, someone for whom life has been a pain rather than a gift over the centuries. In contrast, Nil, which Layne conveys with a persistent intensity, which is characterized by her physicality and her ability to engage in dialogue, is a shot of renewed spirit.
A fear that worries Nil even more when she grapples with her new coat of immortality is the truth that she will survive her family and friends, everything that is familiar and loved to her. Nevertheless, her new family reminds them that, like them, they have no idea why and how they can suddenly no longer die, and no clue as to when this power will go away.
Everyone in the main cast is well matched, and the romantic connection between Nicky and Joe is particularly lively given so many doubts and stays sharp even when the balls fly. But the boredom that hangs over these heroes never slows down the action. Instead, it underscores the freshness of watching an apparently powerful protagonist ponder what it really means to have power and how best to use it, and invite the audience to think about how much good even a handful of extraordinary, almost bringing immortal people to a world can increasingly be shaped by conflict.
The inability to overcome time feels right, or at least as relevant, at this moment, as the recognition of history that the world is so lost and humanity is so keen on its destruction that even warriors who are forever can live, can only achieve a drop of sincere clarity in a morally polluted ocean.
And it could very well be that “The Old Guard” finds a way to fully research this in future installments. The film ends with another classic comic book film that releases an exciting post-end card scene that shows where the story can go if grace continues. Unlike many other films that choose to be so brave, you’ll probably really want to.
“The Old Guard” is currently streaming on Netflix.