Friday, July 10, 2020

Netflix: Review of THE OLD GUARD: Tough Theron Thriller

July 10, 2020

Andy (Charlize Theron) led a group of skilled mercenaries: Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). They had the extraordinary ability to repair themselves from any injury and had been living as immortals across many centuries.  Despite that her group was being pursued by a ruthless big pharma CEO Merrick (Harry Melling) to study their unique physiology, Andy went out of her way to help US Marine officer Nile Freeman (Kiki Layne), who sustained a fatal injury while on duty, but somehow completely recovered.

Andy is actually Andromache of Scythia, who had discovered her immortality for several years before Christ. She encountered Joe and Nicky during the Crusades, and they all met Booker during the Napoleonic Wars. Over the centuries, this adaptive crew had continued to gain in combat skills and technological expertise to fight for what they believed was right. To preserve some sense of danger for these characters, there was apparently a random expiration date to their immortality, but they would never know when this day will come.

Back in 2005, fresh from the Oscar Best Actress win for "Monster" (2003), Charlize Theron showed us that she also had action in her repertoire in the sci-fi film "Aeon Flux". However, she really showed off her full grit and abilities as a hard-core action star in "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015), and then again in "Atomic Blonde" (2017). This year, fresh off her Oscar Best Actress nomination for "Bombshell" (2019), Theron further pads her resume in the action genre in this new Netflix film based on the 5-part graphic novel from Image Comics, written by Greg Rucka, art by Leandro Fern√°ndez.

As the most senior immortal warrior Andy, the statuesque Theron wows us again with her grace and strength in all her brutal, bone-crunching fight scenes. She looked great with her short smart hairstyle, tank tops and trench coat. She looked convincingly proficient with any weapon she used, be they automatic firearms, the battle axe or her bare hands. She had that no-nonsense air of confidence which tells everyone that she is the leader (and mother-figure) of this elite group, there was certainly no doubting that. 

Aside from their complex fight scenes, Theron's supporting cast were all given their own dramatic storylines. Kenzari's Joe and Marinelli's Nicky were given a very long-term bromance relationship, developed as they killed each other several times over before. Schoenert's Booker saw his whole family die one by one, which imbued him with a great sense of guilt. Layne's Nile found it difficult to accept her new kind of existence and separation from her family. Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave") lent some additional prestige as CIA agent Copley whom the group had worked with previously. 

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood effectively incorporated stylish visuals, breathtaking fight choreography, and rock music to tell her story. At the end, there was a not-so-subtle hint that this could be a continuing series. This could be very interesting time to go back into various times in history to get to see Andy and the other guys in action over time. The show's premise may feel like they were just this new set of X-Men composed of all immortal self-healing Wolverines (sans the claws). However, it was Charlize Theron's outstanding star power that made all the difference here. 8/10. 

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