Review: The Old Guard
Max Ingleby reviews The Old Guard, the new action-packed Netflix Original starring Charlize Theron.
Netflix’s The Old Guard somehow manages to be bland and forgettable, yet quietly ground-breaking. This is the latest excursion into action film territory for lead actor Charlize Theron, who has managed to firmly establish herself as a bankable star in an extremely male-dominated genre.
Theron plays Andy in this graphic novel adaptation, the leader of a small posse of undying warriors who have roamed the planet for centuries, covertly attempting to protect humanity from itself. It’s not an original concept by any means – Highlander comes to mind, as does X-Men Origins: Wolverine, unfortunately – but The Old Guard never quite convinces you that it has anything new to bring to the table.
Whole scenes were ruined by the most anodyne, back-shelf pop music, the sort of muzak you’d hear blaring from the tannoy at your local Sainsburys
It all goes wrong for the semi-immortal outlaws when they find themselves hunted for the secret of their super-healing abilities, on the run from a Big Pharma company headed by a sort of evil British Mark Zuckerberg. There’s lots of shooting and fighting and killing, which is all well and good, but it’s not nearly enough. The film is bloated, slow and far too long. Most of the time the characters just seem to be lounging about in various safehouses in various countries, either in a state of confusion or just having a sulk.
Many of the technical aspects were disappointing too. The music, especially, was some of the worst I’ve ever heard in a mainstream Hollywood production. Whole scenes were ruined by the most anodyne, back-shelf pop music, the sort of muzak you’d hear blaring from the tannoy at your local Sainsburys. Bizarre.
The Old Guard does have something interesting up its sleeve. It’s the first big-budget comic book film to be directed by a black woman: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Despite all this, The Old Guard does have something interesting up its sleeve. It’s the first big-budget comic book film to be directed by a black woman: Gina Prince-Bythewood. The representation on screen is likewise fantastic. There’s a gay romance at the forefront of the plot, and most of the best action scenes are performed by women – you find yourself forgetting that action films used to only ever star women as love interests.
The Old Guard may not be a compelling watch, but is an encouraging sign to see the overwhelmingly white, male blockbusters have some more diverse company.