‘The Old Guard’ Review: A Perfect Balance Of Heroics And Humanity

None of the stale superhero mumbo-jumbo

When it comes to bringing a superhero etched on the pages of a beloved comic book to life on the screen, there has hardly been an adaptation free from inconsistencies and flaws. Thus what trully matters is for the adaptation to trigger the same sense of wonder, awe, and excitement like the comics did- it can either fail or succeed. While Netflix’s recently released Warrior Nun is an example of the former, Charlize Theron starrer The Old Guard, sleekly slides into the latter, passing with flying colors. 

From the very beginning, The Old Guard wins some stellar brownie points for not sticking to the usual superhero mumbo-jumbo and instead exists in a world with real-world situations, with superheroes who are just weary souls, striving to do what is right but breaking under the burden they have to carry all alone. 

The attempts by director Gina Prince-Bythewood to give authentic emotional layering to the characters, allows one to connect with them, root for them, and care for what happens to them next. But that doesn’t mean that there are any compromises when it comes to the action scenes, ‘cause believe us they are mind-blowingly top-notch, which says volumes about Prince-Bythewood’s directional prowess, as in the past she has helmed acclaimed romances like Love & Basketball and Beyond the Lights

Expertly choreographed, the action scenes are not there to go all ‘kaboom!’- they are swift and efficient, impressing the viewer but not stealing attention away from the story or its characters who are the key here. 

While it goes without saying that Charlize Theron expertly landing punches and wielding an axe like a pro is more than enough for us to stay glued to our screens, what ensures that our eyes don’t stray to our vibrating phone is the depth given to her character arc and the expertise with which Theron does justice to it, making The Old Guard the first comic book movie, in the longest time, that is worthy of a franchise (and going by the predictable yet still exciting pre-credits scene, we are so gonna get one!)

The Old Guard follows the story of Andromache of Scythia, a.k.a Andy (Charlize Theron), an immortal warrior (presumably alive since the Ancient Greek era) who has led a band of similar impossible-to-be-killed soldiers- lovers Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), plus Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts)- for millennia.

Their lives are jeopardized when ex-CIA Agent Copley (a delightful Chiwetel Ejiofor) sends them on a mission which ends up being a trap, their cover is blown. They are now being hunted by a major corporate evil mastermind, the CEO of a big pharmaceutical company CEO Merrick (an all-grown-up Harry Melling who played Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter movies), who wants to capture them to exploit their abilities for his gain. 

While on the run, the team gets flashes of a new immortal, a US marine Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), who dies and comes alive after a fatal attack. While she is saved by the team from being whisked away to be experimented on, she has her misgivings about joining them. 

Apart from it meticulously selected cast that excellently add richness to their exceptionally drawn characters, The Old Guard showcases inclusivity by exploring the love arc of Joe and Nicky with unapologetic positiveness, unlike other comic adaptations where queerness is treated with ambiguity. 

Thus, what really drives The Old Guard towards being a worthy watch is not its perfect action scenes or an amazing Charlize Theron or even the superhero theme, it is its human core. 

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