Netflix came out all guns a-blazing again this month, with its release of The Old Guard. This action-packed film follows a team of badass immortal mercenaries as they execute a revenge mission. Despite being based on a comic book of the same name, and following characters with supernatural powers, it manages to avoid feeling like a superhero flick – and therein lies much of its success.
South Africa’s favourite export, Charlize Theron, leads a gang of centuries-old warriors, equipped with automatic weapons as well as medieval swords and ancient battle-axes as they fight for what they believe is right. The crew consist of Matthias Schoenaerts , as Booker (a French soldier who once fought under Napoleon), Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli (who fought each other in the crusades before becoming lovers), and last but not least KiKi Layne, who plays newbie and ex-marine, Nile Freeman.
The clique is a beautifully diverse mix of people with fascinating back stories – and indeed, the film feels like its purpose was merely to give us a sneak peak into the lives of these complex characters before leaving us with a monumental cliffhanger. In fact, as a viewer, I was eager to learn even more about the previous lives of these very, VERY old soldiers (the word “veteran” can hardly describe a character who is described as having forgotten more ways to kill than armies could learn in a lifetime). Here, though, the film fell short.
For characters who have been alive for thousands of years, we’re allowed very little access into their past experiences – which surely must be numerous. There’s also not much explanation into the motivations the fuel the plot, and the script has moments in which it feels somewhat forced. That being said though, it’s peppered with humour that lightens the darkness of the storyline. Even Theron’s stern and moody character, Andy, cracks a smile when she describes Nile Freeman with the words “She stabbed me – I think she has potential”.
There’s one thing I feel this film deserves tremendous praise for. The Old Guard, though directed by a woman, and with two female lead characters feels fantastically void of gendered roles. Had Theron’s Character been played by a male actor, the role would have worked just as well. Neither her nor Layne’s character lack drive, skill or strength on account of being women. It’s fantastically satisfying to watch two powerful women kick butt, without their gender being highlighted, sexualised, or even pointed out at all.
The soundtrack, too, deserves special mention, and I’ll be adding it to my iTunes queue right away. It’s filled with upbeat tracks that get your feet tapping (or if you’re me, whole body sofa dancing) and your blood flowing in anticipation of the kickass fight scenes to come.
The Old Guard, though not perfect, comes damn near close as it managed to hold the attention of this writer, who generally falls asleep in Marvel movies. It really does bring new life to a genres that has become rife with cliches and has, for a long time, been dominated by Marvel and DC. Like other superhero movies, though, it also clears the way for sequels – and after watching this one, you’ll be eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Essential Millennial Rating: 4 out of 5 avocados
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