Friday, July 10, 2020

The Old Guard


A quartet of mercenaries are lured to an ambush in South Sudan where their bodies fall on the ground after getting showered with bullets. A few minutes later, the four of them get up as if nothing happened and slay the strike force that just slaughtered them. The bloodbath is recorded on camera and sent to Steven Merrick (Harry Melling), a big pharma CEO who is keen to cash in on the group’s immortality. Escaping on a train, Andy (Charlize Theron), Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) dream of a young marine’s death and rebirth in Afghanistan. Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) is confused as to what has just happened to her and is about to be flown to Germany to be tested and probably experimented on. Realizing that another immortal has just awakened, Andy comes to the rescue to introduce the newbie to the gang, but the pharmaceutical empire hunting them with the help of former CIA James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) will not stop until they get their bounty.

The recurring thought in my head as the credits started to roll was that I want multiple seasons worth of prequels as 10-episode Netflix series! Imagine the wealth of material they can work on given how many centuries these characters have been alive! And then they throw you that mid-credits plot twist, which got me, like, well damn it, now I want a sequel too!!! I guess I feel that way because I want answers and I find the characters to be really interesting, what with literally hundreds of years of stories to tell.

I want to see how Andromache was worshipped as a goddess. I want to witness how Joe and Nicky literally killed one another before going to the honeymoon stage of their relationship. I want to know more about Booker’s emo phase as he tried to reconcile family and immortality. I want to watch Nile become more and more comfortable with the group. But perhaps I really just want more of Theron being unapologetically badass. She pretty much gave Angelina Jolie a run for her money without much resistance, hasn’t she?

But that is already to be expected. Atomic Blonde thrilled me so much, and Theron is basically the female version of Keanu Reeves as far as being an action hero is concerned. When she kicks ass, you can see in the choreography that it is legit. Lest we forget, though, she is also an Oscar winner and never fails to amaze with the transformations she is willing to undergo just to give justice to a role. She was Ailleen Wuornos in Monster. She was Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. This woman is a freaking chameleon!

Theron aside, though, what I really love about The Old Guard is how it mixes action with the ever-seductive concept of immortality. Who doesn’t want to live forever, right? Maybe Andromache doesn’t, because in between swinging her labrys and shooting people point-blank, there is that honest reflection on what an everlasting life truly entails. In any case, both action and gore serve as a worthwhile distraction for the audience not to overthink it. As such, a healthy balance between philosophy and adrenaline is kept in check.

Nevertheless, what baffles me is their chosen line of work. If one can live for hundreds of years, why become a warrior? The prospect of being the ultimate fighting machine thanks to centuries of practice is enticing alright, but why not be a scholar or a philosopher? Imagine how many languages you can master or how many PhDs you can collect from various universities if you can live that long! Eh, we all have our preferences. Besides, would you watch a movie about a scholar studying non-stop for a thousand years? I wouldn't.

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