I HAVE BEEN HERE ONCE!
For the past two decades, the graphic novel-type comic book superhero has dominated major movie studios’ blockbuster tent poles and annual release dates. Drawing on the larger-than-life exploits for various origins films, solo films and team endeavors. Of course, the properties of Marvel and DC Comics were the more well-known uses of this strain. Use Iron Man, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and many others for large-scale cinematic blockbusters. However, there have been other / lesser known feature films adapted from comic books like 2005 Sin City, 2006 300, 2006 V for Vendetta, 2009 Guardian, 2015 Kingman: The Secret Serviceand 2017 Valerian and the city of a thousand planets just to name a few. Now Netflix and director Gina Prince-Bythewood present the latest film adaptation of the graphic novel The old guard, based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Greg Rucka. Is this film shining in the spotlight of the graphic novel or does it fail under the weight of its own cinematic ambition?
Andy (Charlize Theron) was born hundreds of years ago and is an immortal who has lived through the centuries with a special healing power that makes it impossible to kill. Over the centuries, she has gained tremendous experience with war and used her skills to build a team of her other immortal individuals, including Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), to fight evil and try to correct the world’s injustices as they see fit. The problem is that the continuous influx of power and nations in the world has weighed on unity and the troop has grown weary of endless battles to be waged. After Andy’s team made contact with ex-CIA agent James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), they tried to rescue a kidnapped girl in Sudan. obsessed with claiming the immortals and using their DNA to advance antiaging research for his company. In the battle over Merrick’s thug and Copley’s betrayal, Nile Freeman (Kiki Layne), a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan, suddenly realizes she is abnormal and miraculously recovers from a fatal gunshot wound. Raise the awareness of Andy and her team to a new immortal who will join their fight.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
There is no doubt that superhero films are a great choice for film studios to make big bucks for their annual earnings. Acquiring the rights to graphic novels for massive blockbuster endeavors over the past two decades. Personally, I’ve expressed an interest in adaptations of graphic novel films, including the popular superhero films from Marvel and DC Comics, but I also like when others get their chance to shine. those that are either a non-serial project (Watchmen) or a lesser-known trait (Kingsman: The Secret Service). Of course, it’s pretty interesting how the “page-to-screen” translation is handled (how all the adjustments are made), and I’m always fascinated by the changes that are made to make them “theatrical” for a feature film. Despite the almost negative apology that many have for adapting graphic novels, for one thing, I’m looking forward to these projects continuing to grow, especially since most of them have those larger-than-life nuances of heroism and surreal real-world fantasy.
This brings me back to talking The old guard, a 2020 action superhero film based on a graphic novel series. To be honest, I haven’t heard much about this movie in a long time. There wasn’t a lot of “buzz” on the movie’s website, which I visit frequently, and I can’t even recall a lot of “hype” when the movie’s movie trailer went online. To be even more honest, I didn’t hear about the movie until a few weeks after its first release date (July 10th)th, 2020) when reading some reviews for the film where thoughts were divided from mixed to positive. Even though I have a Netflix account, I kept postponing watching / reviewing The old guard for some time. I do not know why. I just did it. So I kept doing it over and over and made it to one of my final reviews for the 2020 release year. I finally saw the movie’s movie trailer just before I saw it and I have to say that I was quite intrigued by the premise and action of the film. So I was down to see the movie and give my two cents The old guard (Finally I would like to add). And what did I think of that? Well it was fine (I admit that) but meanwhile The old guard The film offers an interesting set-up premise and great choral action sequences. The film has problems with tempo and plotting. It’s still a good movie (there’s no doubt about it), I just wish it was more ironed out and a little better presented.
The old guard Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, whose previous directorial work a variety of episodes for TV series as well as several films such as Love & basketball, The secret life of bees, and Beyond the lights. Prince-Bythewood takes a look at her background on the big and small screen The old guard her most ambitious project to date; tackling such a celebrity movie with several well-known stars and for an original Netflix movie. To that end, I think she did a pretty good job of approaching the film with a flair for action and an awesome superhero aesthetic (and yet very toned down for the realism of the real world). The result is something that definitely works and creates an intriguing premise. Yes, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is its story, written by graphic artist Greg Rucka. The idea of immortal individuals who fought and survived the various major battles and wars throughout history definitely caught my eye right away, and Prince-Bythewood seems to be perfectly accepting that idea. Pierce the feature with a glimpse of their past lives (via flashback sequences) and tired / exhausted from struggling to experience it all. Additionally, Prince-Bythewood provides the action for the film, particularly with regards to the film’s third act, with many of the film’s immortal characters (Andy and her team) employing a wide variety of weapons to fight with, including guns and knives as well Swords and battle ax. Also, the execution of many of these action sequences is well choreographed and presented in an entertaining way. For the most part, the movie brings out a lot of familiarity, which is both good and bad in this movie (more on that below), but what defines Prince-Bythewood The old guard definitely works and makes for a fun piece.
For the presentation of the film The old guard is something I would expect from a project like this. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or something, just something that meets the “industry standard” for that particular endeavor. With the well-founded interpretation of the immortal, superhero-like group of protagonists, the film retains a more “real” aesthetic compared to the explosive and / or large-scale blockbuster influences that stem from the greater part of the graphic novel adaptations. So this whole “coarse-grained” texture definitely establishes the feature and holds everything “even keel” that I enjoyed. In addition, the film shifts its film set and locations inside and outside the film and offers an excerpt from an international globetrotter adventure with a few small flashbacks from different time periods that are peppered throughout. Thus, all of the “behind the scenes” team members that I normally mention in my reviews (ie stage productions, decorations, costumes, etc.) are well-placed and well-positioned for a film of this particular budget caliber. While the film does have some musical soundtrack songs, the film music, composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran, is good and offers glimpses of dramatic moments, whether it’s quiet dialogue pieces or action-adrenaline scenes.
Despite an interesting concept The old guard hesitates in its execution and is prevented from achieving its goals and cinematic fame. As the? First of all, the movie just doesn’t feel like a movie and that’s one of my biggest problems with the project. What I mean? It is difficult to explain this aspect perfectly (if you know what I mean), but in the absence of better words the film does not have the “cinematic” quality that you find in a feature film of this type. Yes, what is presented works, but not enough. The way everything is shot, presented, and executed feels like part of a TV series (good and high quality, mind you), but still like a TV series rather than a feature film. So, all of the camera and camerawork feels pretty “meh” and I was kind of expecting a little more. Speaking of TV series, I personally think so The old guard should be more of a series on Netflix than a movie, especially since it would have been possible to expand the narrative (exploration of backgrounds, character development, and plot points) in ways that aren’t limited to a feature film. Yes, it can be argued that this can be done for almost any project, but my story definitely has the potential to expand (even a follow-up film would be nice).
Even so, the film tries to project what it wants to convey in a very meandering manner, which (of course) raises my next point of criticism. the tempo. The pace of the film is pretty terrible and it really hampers the viewing experience. The first half of the film is basically an exposed garbage dump to elaborate on some of the backstories from Andy’s team. That’s cool, but it slows the pace of the movie and creates a lot of “boring” moments where characters just sit around and talk. Character growth is important, but it doesn’t come at the expense of movie pace. That part in the direction of the film in which Prince-Bythewood cannot make a tight film, as well as the script of the film, which is (again) made by Rucka himself. There is just something strange about this project that I can’t quite tell. All the ingredients are there, but not everything will gel properly. It works a few times and definitely works, but not always and interferes with function. Furthermore, the film fails to overcome its shortcomings in predictable narrative beats and clichés. Generating a somewhat predictable / formulaic path that is easy to see where the movie’s story / characters will end. Plus, there seems to be a great setup for a future installment that I’m looking forward to. The setup, however, requires a large scene (via the flashback sequence) which is good (again) but seems pretty much embedded in the movie. The placement in the film is a bit cumbersome and only serves to create a setup for another film.
Busy for, of course The old guard does a pretty good job of bringing these respective characters to life and getting the film out of the above problem areas. The downside, however, is that some of the scripted treatments for these characters get cluttered, with some getting more screen time and better character development than others. At the head of the prosecution is the actress Charlize Theron, who plays the role of the protagonist Andy (or better Andromache). Theron, best known for her roles in Atomic blonde, Mad Max: Anger Street, and Snow White and the Hunterhas proven herself to be a capable actress, suitable for both the main role of the antagonist (see Snow White and the Hunter and The fate of the angry) as well as the badass female action heroine (Atomic blonde and Mad Max: Anger Street). In case of The old guardTheron channels the latter theater personality; In her portrayal of Andy, she relied on the badass character with just enough battle-hardened restraint and a deft climax. Although the character could play on the everyday traits of her previous roles as well as on similar characters of a female action lead role, Theron is great and definitely plays a pivotal role in the making The old guard pleasant / unforgettable. Personally, I loved her in the movie!
Behind Theron is the actress Kiki Layne, who is known for her roles in Trapped state, Local son, and If Beale Street could talkdoes a fine job in the role of Nile Freeman, a US Marine who becomes the new recruit to Andy’s team of Immortals. Like Theron’s Andy, the Nile’s character is pretty much the no-nonsense Architype personality of the “New Recruit” platform. We (the audience) were offered to understand how things work and to see everything with new eyes in this world of immortal beings. It’s definitely a tried and true character path as the film sees your character’s progression as the film progresses. Other than that, it’s not really original and has been done many times before, with Nile being mixed up with pretty much every similar protagonist who has gone down the same path. Still, like Theron, Layne delivers a solid performance in the role.
The other main actors in the film, including Matthias Schoenaerts (The Danish girl and Red sparrow) as Booker / Sebastian Le Livre, actor Marwan Kenzari (Murder on the Orient Express and Aladdin) as Joe / Yusuf Al-Kaysani and actor Luca Marinelli (trust and Martin Eden) as Nicky / Nicolo di Genova make up the rest of Andy’s team of Immortals. Like Andy’s character, these three immortals are like her; The fight got tough and everyone gave a different personality to make them memorable in the film (be it dialogue moments or importance for the narrative). I liked these three characters and while they are just supportive players in the main part, it definitely added some fun and rounding to the group. I also like how they came from different time periods and how they look different in their past lives and culture.
Beyond the main group of The old guard The protagonist Chiwetel Ejiofor is good in the role of James Copley, a former CIA agent who Andy and her team have been involved with for much of the movie’s story. Known for his roles in 12 years a slave, Doctor strange, and The MartianEjiofor has proven himself a capable actor in his various past roles and appears likely to be the film’s secondary star after Theron. To his credit, Ejiofor is firmly in the role of Copley and I really liked him in the character. The film’s script doesn’t know what to do with it, however, and it is brushed aside for parts of the film, including the third act. Despite Ejiofor’s involvement in the project, Copley’s character seems more of an afterthought. As a side note, actress Ngo Thanh Van (Since 5 Bloods and Crouching tiger, hidden dragon: sword of fate) gives a small but effective role in the role of Quynh, an immortal ally from Andy’s past.
The other vicious supporting actors in the film, including actor Harry Melling (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Queen’s Gambit) as the wealthy CEO of a pharmaceutical empire Steven Merrick, actor Joey Ansah (The Bourne ultimatum and Snow White and the Hunter) as head of Merrick’s security force Keane and actress Anamaria Marinca (Europa Report and Fury) as Merrick’s colleague Dr. Meta Kozak give decent performances in their roles. Granted, these are not acting talents that all impart (respectfully) good acting talents, rather the story / script of the film limits their characters to being one-dimensional villains and follows the usual tropes of vicious antagonists (i.e. the main weasel) similar villain, the chief security officer and the cold-hearted scientist), especially since the film doesn’t have the time to develop their personas beyond their initial setup.
After countless years of fighting and fighting to save the world, Andy and her group of Immortals discover a new conspiracy to eliminate them as they try to find a new recruit to use their newfound skills in the film The old guard. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s latest film is based on source material from Greg Rucka’s graphic novel. A fascinating superhero film that is based on realism but also feels a bit awesome. While the film struggles with attempts, especially tempo problems, exposure dumps and the lack of a certain cinematic quality, the film manages to create an interesting story, well-choreographed action scenes and a sympathetic main cast of characters. Personally, I liked this film. Yes, it had its flaws and could have been better, but for what it’s worth, I liked the movie. So my recommendation for this movie is a comfortable “recommendation”, especially for those who spend two hours looking for something to watch on Netflix and get distracted. With the conclusion of the film, which ends with a setup for a sequel, the idea for The old guard 2 is promising and one could hope that the project will get the green light. I just hope the next chapter of the film is a little more ironed out than this one. Regardless, The old guardDespite its predictable nature and speed issues, delivers its plot premise and fascinating story to make the viewing experience enjoyable. It might not be the best Netflix movie or graphic novel adaptation, but I think it’s definitely one worth checking out.
3.6 out of 5 (recommended)
Published on: July 10, 2020
Reviewed on: January 18, 2021
The old guard lasts 118 minutes and is rated R for sequences of graphic violence and language