Netflix Now: The Old Guard (2020) - Reviewed

charlize theron
image courtesy Netflix
Some of the most successful fantasy or science fiction movies and television work with only a single supernatural element and explore it to its end. 

This allows the actual manifestation of superhuman abilities, or otherworldly technology to take a backseat, and not overshadow the character or plot development that is at the heart of the film. The Old Guard, a Netflix original film adapted from a comic series by the original author Greg Rucka, focuses on a group of immortal warriors. But rather than a Deadpool comedy revolving around unkillable people messing around, this movie takes a more serious look about what it means to never die. Immortality is shown as a lonely, gruesome, and desperate condition, and the people who are burdened with it struggle to cope through the centuries and millennium.

These ancient warriors work together to further any cause that they see fit, choosing which sides, and in which conflicts to fight. 

photo courtesy Netflix

This movie is full of compelling characters, who more than any other element drive this film. Andromache the Scythian is the most developed of these characters. She is the oldest out of all the immortals, so old she does not remember how old she is exactly. She constantly references historical events she was present at, helped shape, as well as important historical figures she has interacted with. Her brutal way of dispatching enemies comes from a history of shedding blood for the betterment of humankind, sacrificing much of her own peace of mind and body for outcomes she does not always fully understand. Her full name further contributes to the mythic qualities ascribed to her, which are woven through the plot in a very rewarding way.

Two other immortals who are perhaps my favorite pair are Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) who despite their modern names, both fought in the crusades on opposite sides, and fell in love. They are the exception to the general rule that the immortals are constantly suffering, watching their family and loved ones die while they never age. Their romance that spans a thousand years is used to create lighter moments, and to foil the other immortals. Andy and Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts) both have lost more people than most of us will know, and Nile is struggling with her new reality that she will have to watch everyone she loves die. 

In a movie where immortality is a burden, a deep romance made possible only by immortality adds a lighter touch. The action sequences also served to drive the movie, and parts of the plot as well. Since the team is so old and have been fighting together for centuries, they have combat worked out to a science. They enter a situation like a well-oiled machine, ripping through whoever is unfortunate enough to be in their path. They bring this to the forefront several times as they are planning, such as recalling a maneuver they pulled in 1853, Buenos Aires and applying it to their current situation. Their teamwork comes through on camera and brings a fast paced energy to the fight scenes.

The soundtrack further serves to emphasize the combat and is semi-incorporated into the scenes. The song’s lyrics rise to provide punctuation and set the tone for the violence that is about to occur. The lyrics swell right before the moment of action, and high energy instrumentals play over the fight scenes.
The Old Guard is a thrilling combat driven movie that delivers on its action packed, supernatural promises. Although there is no word yet on a sequel, it would definitely be welcome, and easily tacked onto the end of this film. I think we can expect to see more from this film in the future.  

-Patrick Bernas