Director; Gina Prince-Bythewood. Starring: Charlize Theron, Kiki Lane, Matthias Schoenaerts. Rated R. Color. 125 Minutes.
Original movie ideas, particularly in the Sci-Fi/Action genre, are tough to get right. There are some great ones like “The Terminator” or “Star Wars”. There are also the absolutely terrible such as “Cowboys and Aliens” or “Jupiter Ascending” to name a few of the worst. Charlize Theron’s most recent adventure “The Old Guard” falls in the middle section of these two extremes. The idea is very interesting with a solid first act. Unfortunately the final act is a huge letdown. The story of the special skills that four soldiers posses is hard to believe, particularly when they cannot explain it themselves.
Theron plays Andromache the Scythian aka Andy, the commander of the most well trained gun for higher team the military can buy. Why are they so deadly? They have had a lot of practice. The team is made up of immortals that are all hundreds of years old. They have fought in countless conflicts around the world. From swords to bullets, nothing has stopped them so far. Andy is the oldest and is haunted by what happened to her original immortal partner Quynh (Veronica Ngo) as she was doomed to suffered a fate worse than death when villagers tried to kill them during the Salem Witch Trials era. Since then Andy has been able to sense other immortals when they are in close proximity throughout centuries of wandering.
Making up the rest of the team is Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Andy’s right hand man, Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and his gay love of his eternal life Nicky (Luca Mainelli). Constantly struggling to hide their existence, the crew comes together in Morocco for their latest mission. Ex-CIA agent James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hires them to take down a violent terrorist militia. The bad guys surprise attack and gun down the heroes instantly. But after a few moments the bullets fall out of their bodies and they proceed to kick some ass. Agent Copley appears to have attempted to set the team up.
After the first shootout the group go back into hiding on a train when they suddenly sense the presence of a brand new immortal. Nile Freeman (Kiki Lane) is a soldier in a female led military platoon. The soldiers are on a mission in Afghanistan to take down a terrorist organization that specializes is holding women captive. The infiltration mission starts off good until Nile gets her throat slashed. At that moment all of the immortals are connected. Nile wakes up the next day in the hospital perfectly fine and totally freaked out. Andy hops off the train to go and bring in the confused girl before it is too late and the government gets their hands on her.
Nile’s mind is of course running in circles, especially after she keeps not dying from things one normally would. After a fast paced rescue, Andy and Nile reunite with the other immortals as things must be explained to the newbie. Several flashbacks provide a small glimpses of the lives these immortals lived in leading up to modern day. The most tragic being what happens to the lost immortal Andy has spent centuries trying to find.
Now that the immortals are somewhat known by the shady side of the human race again, the conniving agent Copley attends a conference presented by his billionaire boss Merrick (Harry Melling) owner of Merrick Pharmaceuticals. Copley shows Merrick the footage from the opening shootout and Merrick quickly becomes obsessed with capturing these immortals as they hold the ultimate key to life itself. A well organized manhunt combined with a member of the team backstabbing the others, survival becomes something not normal for this crew.
“The Old Guard” does have its positive features. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood keeps the action moving. Talking points and plot development are also well paced. This film is never boring. Charlize Theron is of course good as always. I find it funny that Theron won her Oscar and pulled a Liam Neeson in which now she just shoots and kicks people in movies. There is also the bad stuff. Some of the flashback scenes are ridiculous, with the worst showing Charlize Theron battling in some Mongolian style battle armor that looks ridiculous. Yet the worst for me was the performance of Kiki Lane. She is completely flat off the battle field and one of least effective action stars ever with a gun in her hand. I enjoyed “The Old Guard” until it faded away into the nonsensical towards the end, but the idea was intriguing. We’ll see where the story goes with the sequel currently in production.
Suck Factor: 4 out of 7 (7 Means Your Movie Really SUCKS!)
The SUCK Factor, how it works. We have flipped the script on the standard ratings system. If you make an amazing film, such as “The Godfather”, you receive 0 SUCKS! If you make absolute garbage, such as any Michael Bay movie, you receive 7 SUCKS!