ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller checks out the latest action movie fresh to the small screen to keep you entertained at home…
Netflix has really been coming up with the goods for subscribers throughout lockdown with some glossy film productions – and they continue in that vein with this solid A-list action flick.
Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster) looks like she’s just dyed her hair and jumped straight from the set of Atomic Blonde to kicking ass again – starring alongside Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Far from the Madding Crowd) – in this big-budget supernatural drama based on Leandro Fernandez’s 2017 comic-book series.
And just like with Chris Hemsworth in the much-liked Netflix thriller Extraction, this sets up nicely for a potential sequel – which shows the streaming giant is doing plenty right in this field.
Theron’s mercenary Andy leads an elite squad of soldiers – Booker (Schoenaerts), Joe (Aladdin’s Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) – who are ‘guns for hire’ to take on dangerous globe-trotting humanitarian missions, and have the inuring ability to always come out unscathed. That’s because they’re actually centuries-old immortals – with leader Andy having been through wars as far back as the Crusades.
But they soon realise that their identities have finally been discovered when they’re sent on a false mission to save a bunch of kidnapped kids – given to them by Ejiofor’s former CIA agent James Copley – and get mowed down by gunfire.
Of course, when the warriors all survive the double-cross firefight, the sequence is video-taped, and greedy pharmaceutical CEO Steven Merrick (Harry Melling) will then stop at nothing to capture them and extract their DNA due to their incredible healing ability.
To throw a spanner in the works, a young female soldier on a tour of duty in Afghanistan – Kiki Layne’s (If Beale Street Could Talk) Nile Freeman – attracts the attention of the foursome, when she is slain in battle and comes back to life, becoming the first ‘immortal’ to rear their head in centuries.
Through some impressive set pieces and passable narrative, Theron and Layne co-lead this gun-totting and sword-slicing actioner to a noteworthy if predictable conclusion – always slightly constrained by its genre restrictions.
But it’s always the right side of watchable as The Old Guard continues Netflix’s burgeoning reputation for bringing cinematic quality films to the small screen – which seems to be the ‘new’ way of moving the medium forwards.
And with the always-reliable Theron in fine form this proves to be another impressive string to Netflix’s bow.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Cast: Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Van Veronica Ngo & Harry Melling
Running Time: 2 Hr 5 Mins
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood