Charlize Theron is one of those actresses whose beauty seems to defy the passage of time, and in The old guard, a new blockbuster action movie coming up on Netflix, she embodies a literal immortal. Just think of more mercenaries to hire than Highlander, although there are probably thematic similarities to the latter. The streaming giant seems to be leaning hard in action movies with big stars, given that movie and last month’s megahit, Extraction, with Chris Hemsworth.
(Soft spoilers for the comics below.)
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and basketball), the film is an adaptation of the comic strip of the same name by award-winning author Eisner, Greg Rucka (Lazarus, Wonder Woman), with the art of Leandro Fernández (Deadpool, Punisher: MAX). The main protagonist is Andromache of Scythia, aka Andy, who is trapped in an immortal life for centuries, for a mysterious reason.
Along with a few other immortals – including Joe and Nicky, who fought on opposite sides during the crusades – she assumes high-risk missions for affluent clients over the centuries. As Andy begins to train a young and new immortal named Nile, the group faces a new threat in the form of a wealthy businessman who learns about them and wants to earn eternal life for himself.
Rucka wrote the screenplay himself, so we can assume that the film will do justice to his work. According to the official premise:
Forever is more difficult than it seems. Led by a warrior named Andy (Theron), a secret group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to undertake an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s in Andy and the Nile (KiKi Layne, If Beale Street could speak), the most recent soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat from those who seek to reproduce and monetize their power by any means necessary.
The trailer opens with Andy’s voice introducing himself to Nile as the leader of an elite group of fighters (“like you”) with “an extremely rare skill set.” Shot of scene where Andy and his three companions are mercilessly shot by masked soldiers – and stand up to take revenge. “Let’s just say we’re very hard to kill,” says Andy. The Nile turns out to be a promising recruit and its rapid healing powers are developing rapidly. But Andy et al. the good guys or the bad guys? “It depends on the century”, Joe (Marwan Kenzari, Murder in the Orient Express) answers.
We see a large array of clips documenting the group’s past exploits throughout history. For example, we see that Andy saved a young girl in 1918. But immortality does not mean that their life is free from pain: “It is not because we continue to live that we stop suffering”, Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts, The Danish girl) sadly admits.
They also face another type of challenge: to remain incognito in the 21st century obsessed with selfies, where everyone documents everything. “Throughout history, we have protected this world by fighting in the shadows,” says Andy, as we see his offer to take a photo for a group of tourists – to better remove one of their images that capture it in the background. “But it is almost impossible to disappear in the world we live in today. “
The film also stars Luca Marinelli (Trust, Martin Eden) like Nicky and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 year old slave, strange doctor) like Copley, who seeks to capture the immortals so they can be armed. There is also an appearance from Harry Melling, who played Dudley Dursley in the Harry potter franchise, although the actor has lost so much weight since then, he is almost unrecognizable. He seems to be playing an evil scientist on the Copley team: “If we can unlock their genetic code, the whole world will ask for the key,” he said.
Rucka’s comic book ended in major betrayal and a cliffhanger, and if the film’s adaptation follows suit, we could consider a possible sequel – especially if Theron turns out to be a big draw like Hemsworth in Extraction. The old guard debuted on Netflix on July 10, 2020.
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