Once again Netflix rides to the rescue this pandemic with “The Old Guard”, an enjoyable and engaging action flick that probably wouldn’t have had a home anywhere else.
Actor Charlize Theron proves her action hero bona fides again as the star of the supernatural action thriller, and she brings along a pretty game crew to round out the cast. “The Old Guard” doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to action films. But its unique story and focus on character really won me over.
Considering it grows increasingly unlikely that we’ll see new Hollywood blockbusters in the theater anytime soon, let’s be grateful that Netflix can put out such a fun flick.
“The Old Guard” is about a small band of immortal soldiers who have lived for centuries. They never age, and when they get hurt or die, they just heal and get back up. But they’re not gods. They were just regular people who woke up one day and were immortal — some discovered this during the Crusades, one of them while fighting alongside Napoleon in 1812.
Now the four of them are alone together in the modern day, working as mercenaries and trying to stay off anyone’s radar. The film is about two specific events: they get discovered by a pharmaceutical company that wants the secret to eternal life and a U.S. Marine wakes up to discover she’s the newest immortal.
The heart of “The Old Guard” is the charming, well-examined characters. Not all of them get an equal amount of development, but Theron is an old pro and she easily gets the audience on her side. There was definitely a lump or two in my throat during some of the dramatic character scenes. And while the other actors don’t get as much oomph as Theron, they do well with their parts, creating a nice, tight-knit team at the center of the film.
The bad guys aren’t particularly engaging. The lead bad guys are just plain evil for the heck of it, and the henchmen they hired as private security sure do love throwing their lives away to these immortal killing machines. An action film needs bodies to hit the floor, sure, but I kept wondering what was so compelling about working a security job for a pharmaceutical company that pushed these officers into clearly one-sided odds.
But that’s just a little gripe at the nature of these types of action movies. “The Old Guard” is otherwise a very cool film. It’s a likable cast of heroes up against some truly bad guys, with all the gunfights and cool choreography one comes to expect from a modern action flick.
I would love to get a whole franchise out of the crew of “The Old Guard”. It’s got a real depth that I think would play well across multiple films. Hopefully Netflix can continue to shoulder the entire entertainment industry for a bit longer.