Netflix’s original features aren’t always hits, but when they’re good, they’re good. The Old Guard, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne, was released in July 2020. It follows a group of highly-skilled immortals fighting to protect each other from those who want to hurt and imprison them. Finally, after months of friends and Netflix recommending it to me, I sat down and watched it.
I’m not usually one to sit through movies, especially those that are two hours long like this one. But when I thought I was only forty minutes into this film, I was actually ¾ of the way through. It was riveting. Theron’s Andy and Layne’s Nile both deliver emotional and powerful performances throughout the film, taking you along on an action-packed, high-stakes adventure
You might be thinking: how does a film about immortals manage to have any stakes at all? Well, it has more than you might expect. Without giving too much away, the film mentions early on that they can stop healing and/or die, but it happens suddenly and without warning. Knowing this, you know that any time a character is hurt, it might be for real.
One of the most standout parts of the film was how it created a believable and loving dynamic between its heroes. In an early scene, Joe (Marwan Kenzari) describes his love for his paramour, Nicky (Luca Marinelli), that ends in the beautifully poetic line, “He’s not my boyfriend. He’s all and he’s more.” These two characters are romantically involved, but the sentiment of absolute love can be seen between every member of the team.
The second most notable part of the film is the action. Like any good action flick, there’s plenty of guns, blood and explosions. But none of it’s gratuitous, and every fight is a joy to watch. One scene in particular, in which Andy skillfully takes down over a dozen men on her own, gave Theron the chance to show off her fighting skills. (Did you know she does many of her stunts herself and continued to film after injuring herself during one such scene?)
Of course, the movie is not without flaws. At times, the film felt too jam-packed with threads that it didn’t have time to flesh out. They are centuries-old immortals, after all; they’ve been through it all. Of course, there is the matter of a possible sequel, but at times I got the feeling that this would have made a spectacular TV series. Overall, though, The Old Guard was a delight. It’s one of the best films of the year and one that I’ll be coming back to. Be warned: this is not the film for anyone who doesn’t like to see actual blood and guts. But if you think you can handle it, you’ve got to check out The Old Guard.