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Film Review: The Old Guard

13 July 20 words: Joanna Hoyes

The gun-toting, sword-slinging, kick-ass Charlize Theron is firmly back in her comfort zone in this combat-packed superhero saga.

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Starring: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari
Running time: 125 minutes

Playing Andromache (“…but you can call me Andy”) in The Old Guard, Theron’s centuries-old mercenary gives us the perfect amount of ‘tough but sensitive’ with her character’s main aim in life being the protection of her crew and their enduring secret.

Andy, Booker, Joe and Nicky are immortal warriors who, during their varying years on earth, have waged wars in order to assist in the battles of their human counterparts. Their grave fear is their discovery and the fate that will befall them if the world finds out about their inability to die. The team goes to great lengths, not only to serve the planet, but also to hide from it. 

The villain of the piece, Steven Merrick (played by none other than Harry Melling aka Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter franchise) is after the group’s DNA in order to replicate it and supposedly save the planet from disease. As the film progresses, we see he is purely chasing the dollar for his scientist sidekick’s discoveries. 

Acting plaudits must go to KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) who plays Nile, the latest addition to the undying squadron. A marine fighting in Afghanistan, Nile has to come to terms with her new found status as a runaway eternal whose strength and integrity are a huge driving force behind the plot. Marwan Kenzari’s character, Joe, delivers a short but stunning speech in the back of a truck about his beloved partner, Nicky, which I rewound and listened to at least ten times. Everyone should know a love like theirs; “He’s the moon when I’m lost in darkness...”

This kind of action would have struck an even stronger note on the big screen

The fast pace of this movie is entirely aided by the soundtrack. Music by M.I.A., Frank Ocean and Madalen Duke create a touchingly electrifying atmosphere with intense close ups of Theron beautifully framed by the respective melodies. 

The Old Guard, which is based on the comic book of the same name by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, would have been a great movie to watch in the cinema. The fight scenes, with particular emphasis on a later shooting scene, are brilliantly choreographed and this kind of action would have struck an even stronger note on the big screen. We are teased with a corker of a cliffhanger which would heavily suggest a sequel – or even a trilogy, as has been muted by the makers – is in the works. 

A current and cutting take on a superhero movie, with total Hancock feels throughout; this is a damn good film to watch on a Saturday night with a big old bag of popcorn. 

Did you know? Even though the immortals seemingly travel across the globe visiting places including Afghanistan, South Sudan, France and Morocco, the whole movie was actually only shot in two locations; England and Morocco. 

The Old Guard is available now on Netflix

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