Movie Review: “The Old Guard”
The Old Guard
Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a small team of immortals. They do not know what made them this way, they do not know why it happened to them, and they do not know how, but what they do know is that when they die, they always come back. Their bodies heal at an incredible rate, and can even recover from being killed. They are old, they are skilled warriors, and they do not fear death. They fear being captured by those who would wish to imprison them and study them, as getting captured when you live forever means an eternity of torture and captivity.
Unfortunately, a scientist named Merrick (Harry Melling) has figured out what Andy and her team are, and he hopes to capture them so that he can study their genetic code and achieve immortality for all of mankind. With the walls closing in around them, the group of immortals try to cover their tracks. However, the team learns that a new immortal has surfaced. A young marine named Nile (KiKi Layne) has suffered a fatal wound, but has miraculously recovered. All alone and confused, Nile is a sitting duck to people like Merrick. Thus, Andy sets out to find Nile so that she may join Andy’s small army of immortals.
The Pros & Cons
Nile & The Team (+6pts)
Pro: Death (+8pts)
One of the more interesting aspects of this movie, was how the story focused on the concept of death. That was really what this movie was all about. There were characters who could not die, and felt as though this were a curse. There were other characters who could die, and were desperate to unlock the mystery behind how these immortals were able to do what they were able to do. We can all relate to the people who could die, and wanted to unlock immortality. Death is something that comes for all of us, and the uncertainty of what comes next is a natural, understandable fear, but I liked how the filmmakers explored the other side of that coin.
With the protagonists of this story, we got a group of characters who seemingly lived forever. They lived well beyond everyone they ever knew and loved (except for each other), and it was really interesting to see the toll that this had on them. I also liked the idea of what purpose one would have, if they were an anomaly that could live forever and could not be killed. Would you do good to better mankind? Would you grow tired of trying to do good to better mankind if the rest of mankind continuously negated all the good that you tried to do? Would you even notice the impact that your actions had on the world? The entirety of this story was orbiting around the concept of death, and I really liked how the filmmakers used death to create interesting characters while proposing interesting questions that will keep the audience thinking and entertained.
Con: Copley (-3pts)
I do not want to say too much about this guy, because I do not want to give anything away regarding his story, or his involvement in the plot as a whole. What I can say, is that this guy's decisions were head-smackingly typical, and they were equally dumb. It made the character uninteresting, and it made me wonder why the filmmakers needed him in here at all. Copley was one of those characters that made decisions that he should have known better than to make, and he trusted characters that he should have known better than to trust. It just felt like weak writing and felt like a waste of Chiwetel Ejiofor's talents.
Pro: Andy (+8pts)
I liked this character for three main reasons. First, Charlize Theron did what Charlize Theron does, and played this role in a way that kept me engaged and made it easy to connect with her character's story. The second reason was that this character had a very unique perspective on death, which is something I already covered, but Andy's perspective was unique even when compared to the other characters in this story. She was the oldest immortal, and her exact age was unclear to the other characters. She had seen loved ones die, seemed to welcome the idea of dying herself, and made it clear that every time she died, she wondered if that would be the time she did not get back up, but she always did.
I do not want to say anything else regarding what I liked about this character's view of death, because I do not want to spoil Andy's story, but know that it was an interesting story, and it was one that Charlize Theron brought to the screen in a compelling way. The third main reason that I liked Andy, was that she was just a badass. This woman was an immortal warrior. Other characters stated that she had forgotten more ways to kill people than others will ever learn. She had learned countless fighting styles, and it was evident by the way Charlize Theron fought in Andy's action sequences. Her style was unique, and while I am sure expert martial artists could pick it apart as not being very effective, it certainly looked effective, and I definitely enjoyed watching it.
Con: Merrick (-4pts)
This guy was an almost laughable sort of stereotypical villain. His intentions were easy enough to get behind, as he honestly had good ones. He wanted to solve the mystery of death, so that he could save humanity as a whole from dying. Merrick could have been a truly interesting villain if the writers had just made him a reasonable person who was desperate to get genetic samples of the immortals.
Merrick could have been interesting, because we could understand him, but we would have been rooting against him anyway, because he would have been against the protagonists. Instead, the writers made him cruel on top of that. He wanted to save humanity from death, but he also seemed to want the immortals to suffer. He had an arsenal of henchmen at his disposal and simply getting the immortals' genetic code was not enough for him. He was also more than willing to put the immortals through a tremendous amount of pain and torture, and there was no reason for it, other than to give this story a villain. The problem was that this made him pretty generic and uninteresting, and I thought the movie suffered for it.
Pro: Nile & The Team (+6pts)
Andy was great, but I also liked the rest of her team. There were two that were in love with each other, and it was an intense love that had grown over centuries. Then there was the other guy, who was tormented by watching everyone he loved (including his own children) grow old and die while he did not seem to age a day. It was an interesting group, with interesting character stories, and it was clear that all of their time knowing each other had made them a tight group, and somewhat of a family.
I also liked the inclusion of the new immortal, Nile (KiKi Layne). She was a soldier who was killed, but seemed to live through it, and became an outcast as a result of that. She was then recruited by Andy, and her whole world seemed to flip upside down. I liked watching her coming to terms with her new reality, as it made her the most relatable character in this story, since I totally understood every one of her reactions to what she learned. I liked watching her figure out what was going on and find her place in the team. I honestly thought that Nile could have been taken out of the movie all together, and not much of the story would have changed, but I thought her character was interesting enough, and I liked following the character through her story.
Con: Purpose (-4pts)
I thought that this movie was missing a sense of purpose, and I thought that it definitely could have used one. The antagonists certainly had purpose, as they were trying to capture the protagonists in order to solve death, but the protagonists did not really seem to be after anything. This would have been fine if I thought the risk of capture had high enough stakes to carry the story. However, with the knowledge that the protagonists were immortal and would live far beyond whatever the antagonists had planned for them, that sort of took a lot of the stakes out of the movie. Getting captured and tortured would certainly be bad for the protagonists, but it did not seem so bad when I considered the fact that the protagonists would live centuries after this was all over. It made the events of this movie feel small and unimportant, which made the overall plot feel lacking.
Grade: B+ (86pts)
A new action movie starring Charlize Theron on Netflix? I was definitely interested. Then I saw that it was a movie about a group of immortals that live forever and cannot be killed, and it seemed right up my alley, at least it was enough to get me to watch it. Charlize Theron was great. She played the role of the badass well, but her story was also an interesting one, as her character had a very unique perspective on death, and Charlize Theron did a great job with all of it.
That being said, the concept of death went far beyond just Andy’s view of it. Death was really what this movie was all about. The protagonists could not die, but were trying to do what they could to better the world. The antagonists wanted to capture and study the protagonists to hopefully solve death for all of humanity. Unfortunately, the antagonists were cartoonishly and unrealistically cruel, and I think the movie would have been better off going a different way with them. I also thought this movie was missing a sense of purpose, as it seemed like knowing that all of the protagonists would outlive all of the events of this story (by centuries) sort of made the events of this movie feel irrelevant. Fortunately, I liked the action, I liked Charlize Theron in the lead role, I liked how the filmmakers played with the concept of death, I liked the group of immortals, I liked the story with the new recruit, Nile, and with all of that together, I had a pretty good time watching this movie.