The Old Guard is the latest film to enter the Netflix Original family and is one of many films/tv shows adapted from graphic novels. The film starts off in an almost poetic fashion. The first frame shows us Andy (Charlize) lying dead with her partners, a flashlight illuminating her blood spattered face. That face has now turned pale as she lies there, cold, and drained of blood, owing to the bullet holes all across her body. The voiceover starts with Andy talking about how every time she dies, she wonders if this will be the last time, or, will she get up again. The scene cuts to broken walls and small lanes. Camera pans to the back of Andy walking across and at the same time, we hear Madalen Duke’s beautiful song ‘Born Alone, Die Alone’ in the background. Another cut and we finally see the title of the film, one word at a time.
If that’s a little too vague, let me be explicit: I loved the film and there is a lot I enjoyed about it. The story is simple and you can see where it is going all the time. I guess that is a limitation of the action-superhero genre. Hence, the story is not the highlight, the characters are. Right from the start, there is an element of mystery surrounding the characters: the who, how and why of their existence. Kiki Freeman as Nile does a good job as the confused and scared new recruit who comes of age at just the right time. But as expected, Charlize Theron is the one who shines the brightest. She carries the film on her shoulders and is the biggest reason for the film to work.
Charlize Theron: The New Action Star
Charlize Theron is one of the world’s highest paid actresses. An academy award winner (Monster, 2003), one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people (2016), and also a successful Hollywood producer. In fact she has produced this film under her banner, ‘Denver and Delilah’. Even so, In the last few years, she has done something that no other women has been able to do. Certainly not to this degree. She is now a successful action star even though action has always been a male dominated genre. Not just that, in most action films, women don’t even get much to do, with muscular men doing all the heavy lifting. Only a handful of films have dared to have a woman at the helm of all the action, making Terminator, and Alien all the more iconic. Charlize broke the cliche when she played the fierce ‘Furiosa’ in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). This was followed by the kickass MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde (2017). With The Old Gaurd, she adds another feather in her cap as she effortlessly portrays the badass with a baggage, Andromache of Scythia aka Andy.
Action and Direction
The action has been choreographed to perfection and offers plenty of novel moments to keep you hooked. There is so much swagger in the way Charlize plays Andy and every action sequence comes off looking highly convincing and nothing short of exceptional. The cinematography and the editing are slick and keep the action extremely sharp. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s direction is commendable and it shows in how she handles the strong female characters. All the poetic moments (I just described one) are a credit to her artistic vision. To pull off such moments and make them seem natural in a comic book based action-superhero film is nothing short of incredible.
There is true franchise potential in The Old Gaurd. The creators believed that from the start and hence, this film can be seen as an highly entertaining set up for the follow ups. I am barely holding it together thinking about more of Andromache of Scythia but until there is a sequel, I will settle for mutiple repeat watching sessions of this one.
The Old Gaurd is streaming on Netflix from 10th July 2020. Watch it here.