The Old Guard
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood.
What could go wrong with Charlize Theron acting and producing another action-packed, comic adapted movie with a diverse cast of characters, a storyline that feels like a merger between Assassin’s Creed and Highlander; and a good soundtrack? Turns out, quite a bit. But let’s face it. CT isn’t immune to the occasional flop now and then, and this isn’t a total disaster. There’s way worse but let me stop myself and start again, as it appears I’ve got myself off the on the wrong foot.
This film is based on the comic series of the same name by the award winning Greg Rucka, writer of the acclaimed Atticus Kodiak series and many DC, Marvel and Image comics such as Superman, Batman, Wolverine an Elektra. Rucka wrote The Old Guard back in 2017 and the film rights were quickly picked up by Skydance Media with Rucka following up with the script and screenplay. Apparently Theron picked this up while she was making Atomic Blonde and saw the potential. And she wasn’t wrong. It’s a great story with interesting characters, even if feeling a little unoriginal. It’s engaging enough to see it through.
Theron plays the brooding leader of an ancient group of seemingly immortal warriors. Thankfully they’re fighting for the greater good but their work obviously doesn’t go unnoticed and eventually time and science decide to catch up with them, wanting to harvest whatever power that possesses them. But there’s a little more to the plot with a few little mysteries and more unanswered questions to stoke the intrigue.
Putting Chiwetel Ejiofor aside, the supporting cast are made up of some of Hollywood’s most promising actors. Have been a fan of Matthias Schoenaerts work no matter what capacity he plays and Marwan Kenzari impressed me with his portrayal of Aladdin’s bad guy, Jafar. Both of these actors are people to watch out for and both do well to bolster the movie along, especially one touching scene afforded to Kenzari. KiKi Layne is impressive and holds her own up against Theron, quite a different role from her part in If Beale Street Could Talk. Harry Potter’s Melling may look the part but he’s nothing more than B-movie villainy and his lead henchman, though glad to see him, isn’t imposing enough and feels out of place. Just for the record, he’s the same henchman Matt Damon strangles in the shower in Bourne Ultimatum; Brit Joey Ansah also directs and starred in the entire Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist series. He was wasted here and poorly placed.
The action had some great potential and you can clearly see director Prince-Bythewood really tries. There’s some clever ideas but it wasn’t well executed and the quick editing tended to dampen the flow of what should have been some amazing sequences. Though it’s confident enough to not go the other way and over dramatise the action with slow-mo or CGI heavy segments. It’s still entertaining; it’s just not of the same calibre as films like Atomic Blonde or John Wick; and you would have thought Theron might have used some of her experience from AB for sure.
It has a great soundtrack with some perfectly place songs from Active Child, Philotta, Ruelle and Frank Ocean. But it sadly overshadows O’Halloran and Bertelmann’s forgettable score. This is a shame as I feel this film could have really benefited from a more cinematic score and feels like they heavily invested more in the soundtrack, ignoring the film’s music, like it was just a filler or was too late to change out.
Something else didn’t quite fit either beside the pacing. Though it doesn’t drag for the 125min runtime; but the locations and production design feel out of place in parts. Some of scenes don’t feel or look like where their suppose to be which could be because of budget constraints. Costumes design was fine and SFX was up to par but none of it fitted the locations most of the time. The only location I liked was The Prospect of Whitby, one of London’s oldest pubs dating
back to the 1500s so that’s a fitting meeting point for patrons hundreds of years old.
Overall the story is intriguing enough and the film is good entertainment, I just believe the story and characters warrant more, and this could have been so such a good movie. It needed better cinematography, choreography and a stronger score versus the soundtrack. But with all it’s flaws, I still enjoyed the movie and I would welcome a sequel.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 7
Job Description: 6
The Extra Bonus Points: 0
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