Trailers usually have scenes that aren’t in the movie. For the Old Guard, the movie is just an extension of its trailer.
At first glance, The Old Guard looks interesting based on the trailer. A group of soldiers getting gunned down and resurrecting is nothing new, but when you have Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Hot Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), The Handsome Belgian (Matthias Schoenaerts), and an Italian Import (Luca Marinelli), it’s doesn’t look that bad. Having Kiki Lane is promising too.
The movie provides gun-fu mixed with a few medieval weapons to keep you engaged. It’s a replica of John Wick’s action, but well-executed enough sans the shaky cam. The script manages to squeeze in character moments between the action scenes. Fortunately for The Old Guard, its ensemble cast is not just your average square-jawed action stars. They at least have the dramatic chops to give their characters something recognizable.
Unfortunately, even the talents of the cast can’t save The Old Guard from its mediocrity.
For some reason, the writer and director of this film didn’t take advantage of its premise to deliver a pulpy action thriller. The script doesn’t capitalize on its outlandish concept to have some fun and instead becomes Extraction with a gimmick. You can take away the immortality and have a perfectly average mass-marketed action movie. If you gave this movie to Takashi Miike, you’d definitely have something unforgettable.
When the action stops, a vacuum appears. The script attempted to raise the stakes but doesn’t commit to it. Perhaps they didn’t want to lose their bankable star for the sequel. While their moments are sincere, the thinly imagined characters don’t provide the actors much to work with. It’s good to have a diverse cast, but that wouldn’t matter much if they’re caricatures. You’d think that immortal soldiers, one probably as old as Ancient Greece, would have more individuality. Unfortunately, Theron and Co. are stuck with one-dimensional characters in a film that takes itself too seriously.
As a result, the movie drags on at a sluggish pace. It doesn’t help that the plot is equally uninspired as everything else. The climax involves a perfunctory battle with a beetle-eyed big pharma douche and his henchmen that all looked like they came out of the B-movie toolbox. There’s a moment here when the movie showed that sometimes, you have to do a little bit of evil for the greater good even for an old guard, but that idea is wasted.
The production value makes the entire movie look like a TV pilot. And perhaps The Old Guard would be better in this format, where it can freely explore its immortal characters and given more space for storytelling. As it stands The Old Guard is a standard action flick. The disappointing part is it could be more than just disposable quarantine entertainment.
I almost forgot, Chiwetel Ejiofor is here too but his character is so stupid.
The Old Guard
The Old Guard is an average action flick that takes itself too seriously.