Friday, July 31, 2020

The Old Guard

In the first three minutes The Old Guard introduces not one but two action movie cliches. They will not be the last. We're introduced to the movie through the voice of a grizzled veteran (Charlize Theron) who in the movie's first scene is offered a mission she knows better than to accept. The leader of the elite covert squad made up of Marwan Kenzari, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Luca Marinelli takes the foursome to the South Sudan where they are promptly betrayed, ambushed, and riddled with bullets allowing the film to reveal its big twist.

The four characters are immortals who have walked the Earth for hundreds of years. Borrowing more than a little from the original Highlander, it doesn't attempt to explain the immortals' existence while offering a circumstance where they can die (along with flashbacks to lives throughout history). On the run from an evil pharmaceutical executive (Harry Melling), did I mention the script really loves cliches, who wants to use them as lab rats, the four attempt to keep their existence secret and deal with the birth of a new immortal (KiKi Layne) not ready to leave her old life behind.

The script was adapted by Greg Rucka from his comic of the same name. If the film has a major weakness (other than a twist halfway through the film that's impossible not to see coming) it's how seriously it takes every frame of a concept that at face value is ludicrous. While the film is superior in every way to something like 6 Underground, it isn't as fun. That said, The Old Guard presents plenty of great action and Theron provides the proper amount of gravitas and ass-kicking might for the leader of such a group. As the first run of the comic is open-ended, so is that of the film which lays groundwork for another story foreshadowed in its epilogue.

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