Movie #248 2020: The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard has come barraged with negative, harsh criticism since it came crashing straight to Netflix during the pandemic. And I’m here to defend it. No, I’m not kidding.

Based on the Image comic of the same name, The Old Guard follows a group of secretive, covert missionaries followed by Andy (Charlize Theron), who is a centuries-old warrior on a mission to make the world a better place. Sounds cute, right? Wrong. The premise for this film is nasty. Filled with history, gore, and combat scenes, the movie tails the lead characters on their latest mission, where they become exposed to the world. One by one, the gang are kidnapped by a rich, evil tycoon, who is looking to monetise their powers for his own personal gain. When a new recruit comes to the fore (played by the marvellous KiKi Layne), Andy and her team have to juggle training their new soldier whilst fighting off the evil corporation, and all hell breaks loose.

Charlize going OFF Buffy the Vampire Slayer style with that scythe/axe number? Here. For. It. Who doesn’t love Theron in an action movie at this point? We should have all learned (since Mad Max: Fury Road) not to underestimate her, even if her previous action roles (*cough* Atomic Blonde *cough*) haven’t really lived up to her full potential.

A fierce leader needs a fierce soundtrack. Let it be known. The track list in this is an absolute belter, and kind of unconventional for an action/sci-if themed movie like this one. Some have criticised the movie for this reason, but it kept me engaged, if nothing else. More interesting music please! (For reference, artists like M.I.A. and Frank Ocean are featured, which is definitely not what one would expect for this film.)

It’s true what the others are saying: this is a lot to stuff into one movie. However, I found the premise really interesting for the most part. In particular, the flashbacks to the 11th(?) century and the Salem witch trials were amazingly well thought out. Alas, this might have worked better as a TV series purely so they could explore the lore and the backstory more thoroughly, but this introduction to it is a super interesting concept. There are endless stories that you could tell with a group of characters like these ones.

Although it’s not exactly the most memorable action movie of all time, I do think it is better than the majority of the reviews are giving it credit. I told you from the start: I’m here to defend The Old Guard. Plus, a lady director is always a bonus, especially in this type of genre. Proof that woMeN CAn dO EveRYtHinG a Man CaN dO! Seriously though, even in a year filled with Black Widow and Wonder Woman, female action heroes are still so few and far between that it’s so refreshing to see someone who looks like me kick some ass instead of some steroid-enhanced, muscular Combat Carl.

I won’t lie, this was a pleasant surprise for me. It was well-acted, KiKi Layne does a great job alongside Theron, the stunts and fight choreography were stunning, it’s not overly long, the story is inventive and I was not bored for one second. This is a movie that – for me – definitely doesn’t deserve the average to poor reviews it’s getting so far.

Before the credits roll, we get a Marvel-esque cliffhanger, leaving us literally begging for a sequel. If anything, I think the haters should use this film as an introduction to the world that it conveys, and the sequel can only be an improvement on the flaws that so many have already negatively focused on.

Honestly, I think it’s definitely worth a punt in favour of a sequel here, but judging by the way the film critic community have already torn this movie to shreds, it’s more than likely that it won’t happen. Sad.

The Old Guard is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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