Netflix’s attempt to fill the superhero void is more progressive than it is heroic. Netflix seeks to fill the void of superhero films with a comic book adaptation of their own…and the results aren’t good.
The Old Guard is a comic book that prides itself on changing the landscape of the industry from a political standpoint. The series has a very solid premise, a group of people who are bound by their immortality and fight to make the world a better place. Unfortunately much like our characters, the film just won’t die, even when you want it to.
The Old Guard begins as a story about a small group of mercenaries for hire who fight for justice while protecting their secret, they can’t die. The group of immortals is led by Andromache of Scythia aka Andy (Charlize Theron), an ass-kicking assassin who has been around for over a thousand years.
As Andy looks for the latest immoral, the group’s secret is exposed and they are hunted by a Big Pharma capitalist who wants to unlock the secrets of their genetic code for money. It is up to Marine Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) to be the SuperHero In Training that saves the group from a brutally cruel world.
One of the few roles in this film that wasn’t horribly miscast was fight choreographer Daniel Fernandez who puts together some great action set pieces that prevent the film from becoming a complete waste. The 87eleven stunt team, creators of the John Wick franchise, and choreographers of Atomic Blonde earn their keep again proving why they are the best in the business. The special effects are solid for a Netflix film even one on the more expensive sides of the catalog. The idea behind ‘superheroes’ who can regenerate wounds is an intriguing one for anyone who is aware of superhero characters such as Deadpool and Wolverine, the execution of this idea is what causes this film to drown underwater.
The praise ends here, Director Gina Prince-Bythewood is a babbling choice to take the reins of this action film, as the Love and Basketball alum is known for romantic dramas not action films. Despite that her lack of experience in the genre painfully shows, the true crime here is the abnormal writing of Greg Rucka.
The Old Guard takes a winning formula and bungles it like a Seahawks at the 1-year line. In a world where you have superpowered humans that you can riddle with bullets and they keep moving like the terminator, the storytelling is dull and uninspiring. The story doesn’t even attempt to dig into the lure why our heroes have the powers that they do, are they part of an underground alien race? Were they exposed to radioactive chemicals? Were they chosen by God himself? Well, don’t expect an answer because you won’t get one. The film leaves you high and dry on the interesting portions of the backstory and doesn’t stop there.
Despite a handful of scenes, the action is largely absent creating two hours of sitting and waiting for the excitement to happen. Our heroes don’t present a hint of a real personality outside of their written outlines of girl, gay guy, the other gay guy, and another guy.
Not only are the heroes bane, but the film’s idea of a villain reeks of disappointment. In a film where our heroes can’t die, you have to set a challenge in front of them, or else your film has no stakes. An equally powerful villain or a bad guy will have the ability to nullify the powers of the heroes creates an interesting conflict that the audience can engage in. Instead, the conflict comes from a nerdy little capitalist twerp with no powers or intelligence and that exposes the biggest problem with this movie, it’s so woke, it’s asleep.
The Old Guard does an amazing job making sure it checks off all the boxes for diversity and inclusion. You have the female director who was not qualified for a film of this nature. A buzz cut Charlie Theron playing the role of the traditional male leader. An Afghan war soldier and leader of an all-female Marine unit played by KiKi Layne. A gay couple who are so in love, they give the film with the most cringe-inducing, Roman & Juliet proclamations of their love in cinematic history. Dialogue that mocks Christians and the existence of God, with the cherry on top being the main villain…big Pharma.
The filmmakers took so much time making sure that every aspect of their film was politically correct, they forgot to give the parts of the film that actually entertains audiences. The story, interesting characters, witty dialogue, engaging conflicts, emotion, action, and cinematography.
The Old Guard maybe a comic book movie but it is anything but super managing to take an interesting set up and creating a disappointing product.