Andy — Charlize Theron — leads a group of four mercenaries that try to better the world, for pay. They can do the jobs nobody else can.
Because they cannot die. They’ve been mercenaries for centuries, hence ‘the Old Guard’. Whatever wounds they suffer, they heal up shortly after. Deadly wounds close back up and their lungs start pumping again. This allows them to do things no ordinary person could.
Then one client, Copley, sends them into a trap, killing them and recording it on camera to prove they are indeed immortal to convince certain interested parties. The group tries try to hunt down Copley and protect their anonymity, while he tries to hunt them in turn.
To make matters worse, after 150 years, a new immortal appears. When that happens, the four dream of him or her, helping them find the person. In this case she’s a soldier in Afghanistan. Andy goes to find her.
Andy, or Andromache, is suggested to be at least three millennia old – given she seems to be Andromache from the Illiad. She is tired of it. Her endless struggle to make the world better has seemed to achieve little. The world seems worse off than it was ever before, even as it becomes ever harder to hide from mortal eyes.
Nile is a US soldier in Afghanistan who dies while arresting a terrorist, then comes back to life. It immediately distances her from her comrades, and Andy saves her just before she is sent home to be experimented on.
Booker is the youngest of the old guard, and the fixer of the group. He fought for Napoleon before he became immortal. He knows best what Nile has been going through, even as he feels guilty for recommending the job to Andy that got Copley on their tail.
And then there’s Joe and Nicky, two men from opposites sides of the crusades, who became immortal and fell in love. They’ve been together for the centuries since.
Which leaves Copley. He’s an ex-CIA agent played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who everybody of course knows from Serenity — yeah, and that 12 years a slave movie. His motives for capturing the immortals are… not what they seem. Unfortunately, the people he works for are not what he anticipated either.
The Old Guard is something new
The plot of the Old Guard isn’t overly complicated. Like many movies, it shows us the immortality mechanics through the initiation of a junior character, in this case Nile. What is clever in this case, is that she is already a soldier to begin with, so it isn’t too strange she can fight like a pro. She’s also believably reluctant to join them, giving her a good arc for the movie.
Andy is relatable, and a different take on the regular superhero. I like that in a super hero story. Charlize Theron is a great actress, I loved her in Mad Max: Fury Road, for example. In this movie, she’s a lethal killing machine, but all she wants is to make the world better.
The entire movie is based around the idea that immortality is not a gift, but more a curse. The movie explores several ways in which immortality is horrible. Couple that with sleek fighting scenes and you get a very good movie.
By the end of the second act I felt invested, and I liked the ending as well. Interestingly, it’s IMDB rating is pretty low, lower than the worst Marvel movie, ‘Thor: The Dark World’. I feel that’s undeserved.
Complaints of it being ‘too woke’ might give a hint there; I found there’s actually a second Marvel movie with a lower rating than The Dark World, and that’s Captain Marvel. Also undeserved if you ask me. Perhaps the IMDB rating has more to do with having a female lead than the actual quality of the movie. And to that I say what I did about it in my Captain Marvel review, and I quote: ‘go f*ck yourself’.
In any case, I thought this movie was pretty awesome.
All in all, the Old Guard was a fun movie, with exciting fights, and I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t Joker, but it did channel all the cool stuff from Highlander but with more character.
Basically, if the idea of immortal mercenaries appeals to you, and you don’t hate violent movies, go watch this.