The Old Guard review: Netflix ‘may well have a new franchise on their hands’
- Credit: Aimee Spinks/NETFLIX
Paul Steward reviews new Netflix movie release The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron.
Released straight to Netflix, this fantasy adventure stars Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the leader of a team of immortal mercenaries and the government agent determined to capture them.
Based on the graphic novel from Greg Rucka, who also wrote the screenplay, the film follows Theron’s Andy, and her covert team who share a healing ability which makes them immune to death.
Having fought alongside each other for centuries in order to protect the world and uphold what is good, the team are shocked by the unexpected emergence of Nile, a marine (played by KiKi Layne) with the same mysterious abilities.
At the same time the team are double crossed during a mission and left exposed to an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company who seek to extract their powers for monetary gain.
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With the help of Nile, Andy and the team must fight to eliminate the threat and preserve their anonymity.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the filmmaker behind 2000 indie hit Love and Basketball, the film blends elements of Greek mythology with intense action whilst also maintaining its comic book roots.
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Theron is excellent as the lead ‘Andromache of Scythia’ – or Andy for short – as she again channels the hardened action persona seen in films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde.
KiKi Layne takes on the role of wide-eyed newcomer Nile, and creates a good entry point for viewers into this mysterious new world inhabited by immortals.
Luca Marinelli and Marwan Kenzari play team members Nicky and Joe, age old adversaries turned lovers, whilst Matthias Schoenaerts completes the team as Booker.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar nominated in 2014 for 12 Years a Slave, does his best with the underwritten part of conflicted agent Copley, a role surely destined to be a bigger part of the sequel, something that is gently but tantalisingly teased during this film and has already been green lit by Netflix.
The film also barely scratches the surface of its intriguing highlander style mythology, leaving plenty of scope for planned future films.
Harry Potter alumni Harry Melling is the film’s big bad, a villainous scientist intent on monetising the team’s immortality at any cost.
A role that Melling milks for all its worth, but the part is a little too cliched to be taken seriously, making it the film’s only bum note.
Harder edged than your regular comic book fare, but enough fun to delight fans of that genre, The Old Guard’s strengths are in its sword wielding and bullet-ridden action scenes and the excellent performances of its two female leads.
According to the streaming giant, the film is one of Netflix’s top ten most popular movies ever, and on this evidence, they may very well have a new franchise on their hands.