If you’re one of those people who’ve never understood the Marvel hype but still like superhero movies, you must see The Old Guard. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood rescues everything great from Marvel’s Avengers while rejuvenating the more tedious, over-blown parts.
“The Old Guard” refers to a group of immortal mercenaries who fight for what they believe. Andy (Charlize Theron), the oldest guard, leads the group of ageless warriors from mission to mission, where they save lives and kill bad guys along the way. Of course, this leads to some bad ass action. Theron slices and dices masked assailants with a ballerina’s grace and ninja’s stealth. Thanks to long takes and expert choreography, Bythewood and cinematographer Tami Reiker create a vivid grammar of combat, with shades of John Wick and John Woo in its “how did they pull that off?” moments. But you can’t build a blockbuster just out of action.
What makes Bythwoode’s addition to the superhero canon fascinating isn’t its fight scenes (which are heart pounding), but the moments in between when the team questions their purpose (which are heart wrenching). Greg Rucka adapts his own graphic novel and delivers a script full of questions we would ask ourselves had we become immortal. Why me? How can I make a difference? How come I couldn’t age this well in real life? The script resonates enough to make these questions land as solidly as the punches, and the cast, including KiKi Layne, Marwen Kenzari, and Luca Marinelli, all do their part. Harry Melling also shows up, playing a villain who wants to use their immortality for “some good.” “Some good means nothing,” Andy retorts.
That said, in the case of a genre where recycled, machine-made sequels rule the box office, some good means everything.
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