Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Starring: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Let me make it very clear. When I first heard that Netflix and Charlize Theron were teaming up to make what is basically a superhero movie, I could not wait to see it.
I love Theron’s movies, and I think she’s especially good in action movies.
She’s incredible in Mad Max: Fury Road as Furiosa, and even though there are issues with the movies, I also think she’s wonderful in Atomic Blonde and Æon Flux.
She should make more action movies because she’s really good in them.
However, after watching The Old Guard on Netflix, I felt rather hollow.
I felt like I had just eaten a meal with all the best ingredients, but it just lacked any real seasoning.
There was no panache with The Old Guard. No fresh ideas. No fresh perspective.
However, it really should have had all of that because it was made by an up-and-coming director in Gina Prince-Bythewood, and it also had the backing of Netflix.
A Netflix superhero movie starring Charlize Theron? Yes, please!
The Old Guard is a great pitch.
Just imagine how the pitch to Netflix must have gone:
“OK, we want to make a superhero movie by a promising director, and it will star Charlize Theron, and she’ll be backed up by an incredible cast.
“She’s going to be leading a team of immortal mercenaries, and they have really cool weapons.”
I think the meeting might have ended there and Netflix would have said: “You had us at Charlize…”
But, what we got was a really plain, and dare I say it, boring action movie.
There’s nothing special here. I thought the action was a bit drab. The story was predictable.
Some of the characters were utterly pointless, and the music used in this film was really offputting.
The Old Guard has an incredible cast
Read more: Extraction Review
One of the reasons why I was so looking forward to this movie – apart from it being a Charlize Theron action movie, was its cast.
It has an incredible cast with the likes of Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli and Chiwetel Ejiofor all playing major roles in the movie.
However, they are all totally useless in this film because the story is so boring.
I feel like I’ve been using that word – boring – a lot in this review.
However, that is the main issue I had with the movie.
The action scenes were stale. The dialogue was very ropey in parts, and the story was pretty unoriginal.
It felt like it was a ‘by the numbers’ sort of movie.
At least other action films that Netflix has made had exciting action sequences.
Look at Extraction, for instance. The movie’s story is utter garbage, but it’s backed up by incredible action set pieces.
Even 6 Underground’s action sequences were fun. They were incredibly stupid, but also that made them fun.
A film is only as good as its villain, and this guy is not a good villain
The Old Guard feels like it was really trying to ‘reinvent’ the superhero movie genre.
Yet, all it ended up doing was rehashing it.
It takes elements from the John Wick movies, Wonder Woman, Extraction, and so on.
However, it doesn’t do anything new with these elements.
And then, there’s the film’s villain, who is laughably bad.
The villain in The Old Guard is a very young (they make a joke about how young he is in the movie) CEO of a pharmaceutical company.
He’s played by Harry Melling, who you might recognise as the guy who played Dudley Dursely in the Harry Potter movies.
However, he’s been appearing in some pretty good stuff lately.
He was terrific in the Coen brothers’ 2018 film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
However, he’s completely miscast in The Old Guard.
He’s trying very hard to be threatening, yet he really isn’t.
His character ends up feeling more like he’s come out of an SNL sketch rather than the villain of a Hollywood blockbuster.
So, in the end, your action film is only as good as its villain, and in The Old Guard’s case, the villain is pretty poor.
Netflix has made a pretty boring superhero movie
You can’t blame the cast for this film’s failures.
They’re doing everything they can with the material they’ve been given.
Ultimately, I feel like the film’s real issue is it’s not a very well written movie.
The idea is unoriginal, therefore, everything that comes after it will also be.
The Old Guard was written by a comic book writer called Greg Rucka.
He’s written comics such as Gotham Central which is one of my favourite DC Comics of all time.
Rucka is clearly a very talented writer. He’s won Eisner Awards, which not many people have done.
However, I don’t think he’s quite made the jump to scriptwriting, which is a shame.
All in all, The Old Guard feels like a bit of an ‘old’ movie, one that might have been made in the early 2000s.
What do you make of this review?
Have you watched The Old Guard on Netflix?
If so, what did you make of it?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.