I need to stop watching movies with Charlize Theron; they always suck the joy from me.
“The Old Guard” follows a group of four immortals performing covert missions to make the world a better place. They keep their gift a secret to maintain their freedom from anyone who’d capture them for experiments to determine the cause of their abilities. Most aspects about this film don’t feel special or outside of the box, and those that do fail to be expanded on enough to justify its existence as more than filler for the film.
Unsurprisingly, the characters’ worst fears are confirmed when an old contact from the CIA, Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), works with the head of a major pharmaceutical company, Merrick (Harry Melling), for this exact purpose. This is further complicated when the immortals become aware that Nile Freeman (Kiki Layne) is the newest immortal to suddenly emerge.
Despite the movie focusing on immortals, their personalities and history seem lacking. Each person mentions an important historical event they partook in besides Andy (Charlize Theron), but these snippets don’t have any importance beyond reminding the audience that they’re old. These little bits are also a vast majority of character development until the final act.
Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky’s (Luca Marinelli) relationship could’ve been more interesting if a scene was given to show their relationship blossom during the Crusades rather than just one or two short scenes of grand romantic gestures spoken out. These short stories feel like wasted time when most have no significance and add nothing to the characters’ personalities that hadn’t already been expressed. They just add a timestamp to one’s unchanged characteristics.
Explanations of powers and other plot points are either poor or nonexistent throughout the movie to the point where it feels irrelevant to try explaining anything. None of the immortals know how they gained their abilities, why their skill to heal from damage and death increases the more it’s used or why their powers one day fade away. The most common answer given to Nile when she asks the other immortals anything is a resounding, “I don’t know.” It’s frustrating and insulting to ask these questions with no intent to give a real answer.
While immortals seem like an interesting idea, their powers don’t look or feel like anything new. Bullets popping out of their corpses as they reanimate and heal is reminiscent of any scene featuring Deadpool or Wolverine. Details are also ignored, making the healing process seem odd when a bone snaps back into place or slides back into someone’s body like a spaghetti noodle being slurped, and even Nile, for the most part, ignores the discomfort and pain involved when it’s established that everyone still feels pain.
In action scenes, the powers hardly come into play, resulting in stereotypical fights. While the immortals could abuse themselves as bullet sponges, they choose to take cover and eliminate their enemies with ease regardless of the armor they wear. While Andy is pointed out by others to have forgotten more combat forms than any army today knows, she sticks to the tried-and-true method of flipping over others or throwing them to the ground before stabbing enemies with her sword instead of a lesser-known technique that could look cool, be effective and be hard to counter with the limited knowledge enemies would have of it.
The few plot twists that occur don’t feel warranted or built up to at all, leading to confusion more than surprise. Each one feels illogical and leaves a plot hole behind that never has the chance to be answered, leaving more questions than answers about simple procedures. There’s a lack of storytelling that denies any scene to have genuine emotional depth that could lead to a vested interest in what the rest of the film has to offer.
“The Old Guard” disappoints where it could excel and fails to bring anything new to the table. Characters feel flat when they should’ve had more time to build them, leading to a story that does little to make the audience feel suspense or care about what’s going on. If anyone asked me why they should watch this, I would respond with the immortals’ favorite phrase: “I don’t know.”
Contact Caleb Barbachem at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.