The film is an adaptation of the comic The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Leandro Fernandez. The film stars Charlize Theron, the 2000-year-old leader of a herd of immortal traders who have vowed to fight crime and evil and are drawn to causes that require their unique skill set is. Like Wolverine or Deadpool, they reproduce faster than the bullets that kill them, coming back from the brink of death and sending their enemies to hell.
Doing this over the centuries can be annoying to anyone, and what happened to his friends with Andy of Cynthia (Charlize Theron) is certain. She does not want to be a protector of the world in any way. He is set to kill his terrible war ax and retire from the superhero business. The awakening of another immortal Nile Freeman (KiKI Layne), an American Marine who returns from certain death, serves him a new purpose. The immortal warriors get ‘born’ only once in one or two centuries and so they want to help the new girl escape the harsh new reality that she has been thrown into. Along the way, Andy and his motley bunch have to deal with a meomaniac pharma baron. Merrick (Harry Milling), who wants to decode Amar’s DNA to murder a super drug seller.
The film opens with a bright promise to show us an A-team that cannot die but ruin it later by showcasing Big Pharma as an enemy. Why bring realism into fantasy? It gives us a glimpse of four soldiers during different times in history but does not really take us into the past. Here are signs of a bigger picture – we showed an immortal – a former team member, who actually died. But it’s a nap and you miss this scenario. The plot point is strangely left unexplained. Then, we find another immortal, who was thrown into the sea 500 years ago in a metal coffin. She cannot die nor survive. Andy promised to explore his entire life but the film does not explore that possibility either. Maybe it is because the film is about to set the table for a franchise.
Director Gina Prince-Bytewood has been either extremely lucky or extremely surprising in casting Charlize Theron as the cynical and bestial pioneer of Amar. An air of tragedy hangs around his neck that lends gravity to his character. He is an almost reluctant warrior who has witnessed so much tragedy in his life that he has no qualms about calling. Charlize has proved with Atomic Blonde (2017) that she can excel in action and here too her kick, beat and gun fu skills are second to none. His compatriots also look like world-wearing soldiers. To add a little spice to the narrative though, Nikki (Luca Marinelli and Joe (Marwan Kenzari)) is shown a gay lover who met hundreds of years ago during the crusade and has been inseparable ever since. Declaration of love for Joey. Enemy. There is a Shakespearian ring re-tied by soldiers. Kudos to the director for showing a gay love story in a mainstream Hollywood film.
The Old Guard is a character of fantasy, mythology, romance, tragedy and kick-ass action – one could say that it has something for everyone. As previously stated, it feels like an original story and therefore has an unfinished feel. Let’s wait and watch for the sequel to reveal its true potential.