I have grown wary of Netflix action movies ever since I saw 6 Underground. While the action was good, everything else was really bad. The writing was terrible, the story atrocious and the tone never hit the right balance of humor and seriousness it was going for. So, when Netflix released The Old Guard, another film featuring an elite squad of problem solvers and fighters, I was skeptical on if it was going to be any good. I mean, fool me once, right?
Thankfully, it looks like the folks at Netflix saw the mess that was 6 Underground and decided to put a little more effort into the production of The Old Guard. However, while it’s a much more decent movie than 6 Underground, The Old Guard isn’t quite the blockbuster level film it could’ve been.
By the way, I know The Old Guard has been out on Netflix for a while now but, just in case, I will be making this review a SPOILER FREE review. Maybe you’re just like me and felt burned by 6 Underground? Anyway, SPOILER FREE review here, okay?
The Old Guard focuses on a group of mercenaries who only take on jobs that they feel would be for the good of the world. But they’re not any ordinary mercenaries. All of them are actually immortal and have been alive for centuries. During one of their missions, their immortality is discovered and are thus hunted down to see if they can “share” their secret to unlimited life. As this is happening, a new immortal is discovered and forced into this battle against her will.
Probably the best thing about The Old Guard are the action and fight scenes, especially when you see the entire Old Guard crew in battle. All of their moves are incredibly well coordinated and they fight in sync to an uncanny level. There are times when they would toss someone a weapon at just the right time or push an opponent right in the line of sight of their teammates for a clean kill. It’s almost like they’ve been together for at least a hundred years… which may be a fact, come to think of it.
I also have to commend how the action scenes are shot as well. There isn’t any shaky cam or zoom in shots obstructing the view. There aren’t any cheesy slow motion gratuitous moments during the more gory fights, which I really appreciate. Everything is framed in a way so you can clearly see all the carnage that’s happening right in front of you. Sure, there are some abrupt jump cuts but they’re all edited in such a way that you can easily follow the battle.
However, the action is always undercut by the music selection for these scenes. The songs just don’t really match up with what’s happening, almost like they forgot to add music and, instead of actually writing a kick-ass background tune, Netflix rushed out and got the license to any song with an upbeat tempo. They rhythm of the background music and the action on screen doesn’t sync up properly. Instead of elevating the adrenaline pumping action, the music actually detracts from it. It becomes really distracting and did take me out of the movie once or thrice.
The acting is, overall decent, with the only real exceptional performance coming from Charlize Theron as Andy, the de facto leader of The Old Guard. She may come off as rather tough as nails and serious all the time. But that’s more of a result of her having lived for so long and all of the suffering she had gone through for a millennia of her unending life. Also, as she is the star of the film, I will give props to Charlie Theron for doing the majority of her stunts and action scenes. Kind of makes me wonder why Marvel never tapped her to do something like Captain Marvel.
The wold building is mostly good, if a little undercooked. As The Old Guard is based on a comic book, there must’ve been a whole lot of history and backstory that was cut out or condensed and it certainly feels like it. At times, these little glimpses into the immortals history come off as very rushed, which is a shame as these are the times when the more emotional moments and character building are done. You do get the gist of what’s happening but you’re never really given enough time to feel the emotional impact, the heartache and pain of living on while seeing your loved ones die slowly, so it comes off as lip service. Then again, The Old Guard is already a 125-minute film, so I guess some sacrificed had to be made.
This does lead into my biggest problem with The Old Guard: the story comes off as a little too over the place. While the tone is rock solid, the overall tale they’re trying to construct is overstuffed with concepts and even a couple of twists that don’t have a satisfying conclusion or answer to them. Oh, you can follow the story okay but there are important plot points and twists that are glossed over because we have to get to that next fight scene! As such, the story itself is okay but never as engaging as it thinks it is.
Even with that huge caveat, I still enjoyed The Old Guard for the most part. It definitely can be better and, in fact, it would have been better if it was something like an eight episode Netflix series instead of a two hour flick. There’s a whole lot more to The Old Guard’s story and most of it is only hinted at in the film. They do hint at a potential sequel at the very end just before the credits roll, so there’s that. If Netflix is looking that far in the future, then I’ll be down with The Old Guard 2 when it does come out as the action scenes and the world building was great. Just put a little more focus on the way they tell the story and I’ll be golden.
Have you seen The Old Guard? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comment section below!