The Old Guard (2020)
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood | 125 minutes | action, adventure | Actors: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling, Veronica Ngo, Natacha Karam, Mette Towley, Anamaria Marinca, Micheal Ward, Shala Nyx, Majid Essaidi
When a number of school children are kidnapped in South Sudan, it’s up to a group of mercenaries to free them. The group consists of four youthful veterans, led by the tough Andromeda. Arriving in South Sudan, the story of the kidnapping turns out to be fabricated and the mercenaries are trapped. There they lie, pierced by dozens of bullets and dead. Or not?
Nope. The mercenaries turn out to have strange abilities, requiring more than a few dozen bullets to defeat them. So they get up, dust off and embark on a wondrous adventure. A pharmaceutical company wants to commercially exploit the extraordinary abilities of the mercenaries and uses man and power to get their hands on them. Meanwhile, Andromeda—Andy to friends—seems to be slowly losing her abilities.
The Old Guard is an adaptation of Greg Rucka’s graphic novel series. The film adaptation is mainly an action thriller, flavored with some superhero sauce. For once, the locations are not the semi-mythical cities from the superhero universe, but realistic cities and regions in the here and now. Dangerous regions (South Sudan, Afghanistan) and well-known world cities (London, Paris) alternate.
The actors also come from here and there. In addition to big names such as Charlize Theron (South Africa) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (England), lesser known European actors such as Matthias Schoenaerts (Flanders), Luca Marinelli (Italy) and Marwan Kenzari (The Hague). Striking names, because these are character actors in roles that require little psychological depth. Only the eternally young Theron is a perfect choice for the eternally young Andy in several ways.
‘The Old Guard’ offers enough entertainment for a few hours of great action and excitement. What the film lacks is a warm beating heart. The emotional scenes, which have already been dragged in a bit forcibly, therefore never really come through. The characters lack depth and complexity to really captivate you, so you’re never touched by what they go through and what they tell you about their tragic lives. That makes ‘The Old Guard’ not a wasted effort, but with a little more depth the film would have been much better.