The Old Guard

The Old Guard ★★★½

Charlize Theron stars as Andy, the leader of a group of mercenaries that have a special regenerative power that is exposed. A new young woman soldier has her throat cut by an enemy and heals. She soon joins the group after their immortality is threatened to be exposed and exploited, used for purposes against their wishes.

Theron is a chameleon with her physical appearance. She looks literally nothing like Megyn Kelly in Bombshell that she played with the short cropped black hair and numerous ear rings (how many piercings does she have in her ears anyway?!).

The action and fighting scenes are done well with the exception of the music background. Too loud and pop-synthy to fit what's playing on the screen. The story and how it handles immortality for characters is at times very cliched, we've seen and heard the many ways immortality presents dramatic complications. What makes this story a little different is the scientific substory. That's my biggest problem with this film: is it an action film, a medical thriller, a supernatural adventure? It sort of moves between subgenres with ease on screen, but leaves the viewer's emotions numbed because they can't figure out where this is all going? It's not a mystery and yet it's kind of played off sometimes like it's a mystery.

These powers that Andy and her team have: where did they come from? That's an interesting idea in and of itself, but would have been more powerful if more of the film focused on Andy than the new confused member learning about her powers. I didn't care for her acting as much as Theron's and thought the Andy character was much more interesting to follow. Alas, the film opts for a group dynamic. The bad guys? They are pretty cookie-cutter. We've seen the whole "we're doing this in the name of improving humanity" before. That doesn't excuse the bad deeds against our tortured team.

Another side problem with being able to take lethal damage without consequence is that it spoils the tension and dramatic impact. Sure, they do try to address that by saying they don't know when their regenerative powers will just stop working -- when they become not immortal -- but it doesn't completely solve the narrative problem. Viewers instead look at the bad guys as mostly being over-matched.

An entertaining movie at the end of the day that is lifted by the power and skill of Charlize Theron in the lead role. The story, hampered by issues mentioned herein, is suspect at times, but Theron often rises above it. Kristen Stewart need to take notes from Theron's performance. She shows how to take material that is a mashup of genres and cliches and still make it worth watching. I liked it and recommend.

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