‘The Old Guard’: Netflix’s Best 2020 Action Movie
Yes, you read that right, after watching the movie twice. I have come to really dig how Prince-Bythewood delivered a refreshing take on what superhumans are supposed to be. She took extensive care into establishing the characters in an opening film that includes a myriad of gun, fist, sword, and mixed martial arts action shots.
Not your usual action film
Again, big words right? But what can I say, this is exactly what a thinking team delivered and how I felt during and after watching; a film that further captures the entire dimension of what it truly means to be a superhero.
We are used to seeing and is conditioned to feel how superheroes are unbreakable and untouchable, with the rise of the Avengers and the whole entire universe in that realm — our understanding and depth has lessened. Of course, we put Black Panther as an exception. That film to this day has delivered an exceptional backstory as to why the villain came to be.
And that is exactly why the Old Guard is set apart from your usual action flick. The film clearly depicted how being a superhero isn’t an easy gig, an idea that has always been interpreted in surreal plots and twists with more or less the same dimensionality. We can even see that in recent cinematic explorations ranging from (“Logan”) to the old ridiculous ones like (Tobey Maguire going goth in “Spider-Man 3”). That same concept is seen to be widely expounded on by Prince-Bythewood in excruciating detail — this is unusually a soulful superhero material firmly rooted in real-world situations where each pain and each flashback is actually relatable by normal human beings, unlike the unreal plots depicted in Iron man or Thor, I mean an Asgard God?, C’mon.
Charlize, being Charlize
Charlize Theron, depicted as the oldest member of the Old Guard, kicks ass as the leader of 3 other mercenaries who happen to be very old and mostly immortal. “Mostly Immortal”, while this is in itself a very peculiar theme for a movie that is sold to be a “superhero film”, it actually opened it up for a deeper storyline where basically genetics and science can kick-in and give an actual insight to what genetics is all about. Exciting, really.
And as the film opens, we find her pondering the value of fighting the seemingly same battles on an unending timeline. I have honestly never seen her look this tired. Perhaps it is tied with what her character represents and how time hasn’t exactly been too kind to them. “The Old Guard” manages to be grounded and fun at the same time, a true wild card of expectations and twists unlike the usual action genre it is supposedly born out of.
A movie that wants its audience to think
Finally! A film that is not easy to read, and for writers like me, this is heaven sent! a welcome surprise for those of us craving more emotional layering and depth with a pinch of grit and less routine comic-strip wham-kapow that is known to be a staple of the usual action pack films out there, uhh let’s say like the Extraction?
Introspection and intelligence more than make up for what grand scenes and villain history it lacks. It’s a movie that wants its audience to think and if that sounds like a weird fit for the genre, you’re probably right but this film has surely pondered on what it would mean to be all-powerful in a world that only wants to see things go boom. Like, let’s say how our current real-world operates? With all that power-struggle and capitalism being thrown right in front of every struggling human out there, especially since the onset of the pandemic.
That said, “The Old Guard” also takes the time to kick some serious ass. Andy along with her tight-knit “family” has spent entire millennia so to speak as they try to make the world better but has shown them the unending greed and despair instead which as you will see the team grounds them to unending torture as they feel like it is not really helping.
Superhero battles that are explosive and are narratively motivated? Sign me up.
It all builds to the revelation that perhaps Andy and her team’s attempts to aid the world have not been as pointless as they’ve long believed in. It puts the focus back on purpose and how the entire team has lost sight of it along the way, only to be brought back and strengthened. They were shown that doing the right thing (or even just trying to do it) is worthwhile, even when it comes with a steep price.
That idea adds more layers to an already deep-thinking movie, and it also sets up plenty of questions worth exploring in its inevitable sequel. It captures the surreal questions of how immortality isn’t all that glitz and glam. That living for centuries over centuries is nothing but a real cross to bear, and that they just happen to be given that baton to carry.
I mean, if you are one of them, how would this make you feel?
But, of course, this film is not all that. There are a number of ways the scriptwriting can be polished to fully deliver the answers to the questions it has presented. But, looking at the other Netflix films it has produced over the years, this is by far the best this year.
I just wish that with this first film out, that Netflix stays true to what it had opened up. There is a lot of potential with this film and it definitely elevates the quality of films being produced nowadays. I have finally been convinced that the filmmaking industry isn’t dead. The screens just got a bit smaller.
And hopefully, with the onset of sequels, this team can fully captivate a new franchise that will elevate not just the wham kapow but also the thinking nature in its scenes and the of course a more in-depth history in its storyline.
My favourite moments
Staying true with Netflix’s diverse and deep storylines. We see “The Old Guard” deliver more of this, from its longstanding question on humanity deserving all the good Andy’s team is doing to the LGBTQ love story bound with two of her teammates.
Not to mention how on point the cinematography and the OST is. I mean, this team has truly delivered a masterpiece! We are sure to be taken into a whirlwind of emotions that I believe is necessary for us to be a bit more attuned to what it truly means to be humans.
“Being a superhero isn’t easy, but “The Old Guard” reminds us that it — and the entertainment it can inspire — might be the best way to explore what it means to be a person.”
Can you still remember those good old days when a weekend night out might include leaving the house, going to a mall as you eagerly join a huge crowd in a big theater, and then you go watch a terrific action-adventure?
Well, watching “The Old Guard” on Netflix involves most of those feelings —and more. The terrific action-adventure film is a real game-changer and honestly with all the BS everywhere that’s plenty to be thankful for, under the circumstances.
It turns out that the movies didn’t truly vanish, at least not all of them, only the screens.
Catch it as it premieres on Netflix this coming July 11, 2020 – Friday
Our Rating: A