The Old Guard Review: Missed The Boat On Being a Unique Action Film

Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (LOVE & BASKETBALL, BEYOND THE LIGHTS), THE OLD GUARD is a gritty, grounded, action-packed story that shows living forever is harder than it looks.

The Old Guard Trailer:

The Old Guard Video Review (Spoiler-Free):

The Good:

Probably the most intriguing aspect in The Old Guard is going to come from the healing factor of the main characters. It’s one of the biggest selling points of the movie, and it doesn’t fail to deliver as promised. It’s really hard to turn away after seeing a gruesome injury quickly heal up. I think what made this believable was how the film tried to ground the healing component. For example, smaller wounds can heal quicker compared to larger wounds. In a sense, that minor difference made The Old Guard seem a bit more realistic (even in this fictional world).

THE OLD GUARD (2020) – clockwise from top: Matthias Schoenaerts (“BookerÕ), Charlize Theron (“Andy”), Luca Marinelli (“NickyÓ).
Photo Credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX ©2020

Another positive for The Old Guard is going to be found in the sentimental narratives told through the characters. I appreciated how the characters were able to recount their personal stories to convey the downside of being able to live so long. I thought that brought a nice sense of balance to the other benefits they enjoyed from being immortal. It should also be mentioned that much of the acting in this movie does help to really cement these dramatic moments. Charlize Theron (“Andy”) definitely sells the emotional burden her character has to carry and it only serves to add even more intrigue into her character’s past. This was also the case with the rest of the supporting cast and as a result, you may even feel more sympathetic towards them.

The Bad:

My biggest disappointment with The Old Guard came from the ordinary action scenes. The combination of choppy editing and less than innovative fight choreography made the fight scenes feel less intense and inauthentic. They did a good job of highlighting the bodily injuries and the healing that followed up. Nonetheless, there didn’t seem to be very many unique components to really help the action in The Old Guard stand on its own.

THE OLD GUARD (2020) L-R: Kiki Layne (“Nile”), Charlize Theron (“AndyÓ). Photo Credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX ©2020

It seemed like there were some missed opportunities to really showcase the extraordinary abilities of the characters. For instance, if you have warrior-like characters living in different cultures for centuries, one would expect that they have adopted different fighting styles over time. Since we do get flashbacks of the characters’ past, it would’ve been stimulating to see them demonstrate their cumulative fighting styles in various action scenes. To its credit, The Old Guard does highlight how the characters use their healing abilities to their advantage in fights. It would’ve been to the film’s benefit had they depicted more uncommon fighting tactics in combination with the healing factor to leave a unique footprint in the action movie genre.

The Verdict:

The Old Guard is a well-balanced film that provides generic action and more unexpected drama with some heart. Don’t be mislead though. The Old Guard still kicks butt and takes names. However, if you were thinking that this film was going to be the second coming of Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction film then you’ll be disappointed. It’s not that action-packed. The Old Guard actually tries to care about its characters and their feelings and then the action comes in as a secondary priority. Charlize Theron is solid, as expected, and Kiki Layne seems to really be coming along as a co-star in this role too.

THE OLD GUARD (L to R) KIKI LAYNE as NILE, LUCA MARINELLI as NICKY, CHARLIZE THERON as ANDY, MARWAN KENZARI as JOE in THE OLD GUARD. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix/NETFLIX © 2020

I took some time to read the graphic novel after watching the film, and I must say that the movie stayed true to about 85% of the comic. I was a bit surprised that the villain in the movie was less eccentric compared to the comics. There were also only a few minor changes in the story that were noticeable in comparison as well.

THE OLD GUARD (2020) – (L to R) Marwan Kenzari as Joe, Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker, Charlize Theron as Andy, Luca Marinelli as Nicky, Kiki Layne as Nile.
Photo Credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX ©2020

All in all, The Old Guard can make for a decent watch as a Netflix film. I get the impression that this might have actually worked much better as a series rather than a full length movie. There’s more context that could’ve been fleshed out to give the story a little more impact. Feel free to give The Old Guard a watch on Netflix when you have some time.

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writer: Greg Rucka
Stars: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor

The Old Guard comes to Netflix July 10, 2020.  Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

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  • 7/10
    Acting - 7/10
  • 6.5/10
    Cinematography - 6.5/10
  • 6.5/10
    Plot/Screenplay - 6.5/10
  • 8/10
    Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Buyability - 8/10
  • 6/10
    Recyclability - 6/10
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About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He freelances as a writer and video content creator for sites such as MovieTickets.com. Be sure to join the other 33K+ fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]

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