Film And Movies

What Went Wrong With… The Old Guard?

A review of The Old Guard (2020)

Hollywood is running out of ideas. It seems that every other film made these days is a comic book or graphic novel adaptation, and with the likes of Bloodshot and The Last Days Of American Crime, movie studios are really scraping the barrel. Today we have a Netflix movie called The Old Guard which, wait for it… is based on the comic of the same name… yawn. This particular adaptation stars Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor alongside a gaggle of nobodies, resulting in a very dreary cast of characters. The blurb to this flick reads: “Four undying warriors who’ve secretly protected humanity for centuries become targeted for their mysterious powers just as they discover a new immortal”. Sounds very Highlander-esque to me. The Old Guard isn’t ’80s cinematic Highlander however, it isn’t even ’90s TV show Highlander. This is an amateur-looking, bland, and unexciting slice of non-entertainment; basically, the dullest assembly of immortals since Twilight.

The plot which is supposed to be about immortality never explores the concept of being old, wise, or jaded; something that surely these characters should be (Doctor ahem Sleep). Instead, the story focusses on mercenaries and marines saving the day… another yawn. There’s a scene early on in the film where American soldiers give sweets to foreign kids whilst saying “be respectful” to which another Yank grunt replies “aren’t we always?” 🤮 The Old Guard instead of exploring what it means to live forever, contains bog-standard Hollywood militarism… they’re heroes doing good! …wouldn’t it be great if a soldier could live forever? Err… no. With a subplot about the world being worse than it used to be, the old-timer nostalgia is also ramped-up. This is alongside some oddly-racist locales which reminded me of Donald Trump’s “shithole countries” comment. This film, in typical Hollywood fashion, stars a female, includes a gay couple, and is directed by a mixed-race female for some superficial inclusivity, but it’s still a standardised propaganda vehicle, promoting the same things Hollywood always does.

Written by the creator of the comic itself, any shortcomings with the script or story (of which there’s lots) are down to Greg Rucka himself. In a similar way to Fantastic Beasts which was written for the screen by J.K Rowling, the only person who can be blamed for this mediocre screenplay is the person who cooked-up the idea in the first place. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the film has no visual flair or style to compensate. Everything looks either dull or messily shot resulting in an unenthralling and underwhelming action film. The acting isn’t much better; most of the cast are in TV-mode. There’s no Oscar-worthy performances here, even the two Academy Award winners/nominees (Theron and Ejiofor) seem to be there just to collect their cheques and descendant of nepotism Harry Melling (who plays baddie Merrick) gives a performance that can only be described as an older, skinnier Dudley Dursley: irritating and over-the-top.

I also have to mention the soundtrack/score which is littered with corny pop music that adds nothing to the film but further cringe. If this movie was released in the cinema, it would undoubtedly be a flop. This isn’t a popcorn-munching blockbuster it wishes it was, in fact the only pop-corn here is the soundtrack. There’s a set-up for a sequel during the end credits, but with everything wrong with this film, who in their right mind would want more? By the time corny-ass “Baby Outlaw” by Elle King starts playing, you don’t want to endure another minute of this shite.

I have no idea why the likes of Rotten Tomatoes are rating this garbage so highly (77% at the time of writing this). Remember that they gave the classic Joker a 68%; proof that review aggregate sites do not work (but I guess that’s for another article). If seeing a depressed-looking Charlize Theron wandering around distressed sets is your thing, you might enjoy The Old Guard as much as these mainstream critics but for everybody else, this is a forgettable, overrated snore-fest.

The term “old guard” has no significance to the storyline, and since there’s no double meaning, the title is lazy rather than clever. The Old Guard means “the original or long-standing members of a group, regarded as unwilling to accept change or new ideas” and that for me, describes Hollywood to a fucking T.

It’s Getting Old.

Writing: 2/10

Directing: 2/10

Acting: 3/10

Overall: 2/10

5 replies »

  1. Ahhh this is my exact thinking when trying to watch this movie. I don’t understand why it is reviewed so high. I had zero expectation as it was a Netflix movie, basically watching for free out of boredom. I would have rather spent those wasted minutes washing my facemasks or something 😅

  2. Actually, the Highlander tv show was pretty good, especially for a show with a syndicate tv budget. It had its clinkers to be sure, but it also explored themes of friendship, honor, integrity and justice. It looked good, especially the shows filmed in Paris.

    The action was clear and the rules were understandable. It had color and was not flat looking. And the characters were distinguishable from each other.

    When I read reviews stating that this is the best superhero movie in a while, I wonder If we saw the same movie.

  3. 100% agree. When did it become acceptable for almost passable amatuer YouTube movie attempts to be the films of today? I knew it was going to be bad with the baby voiced, purposeful mispronouncing of words in the first piece of ‘music’.
    Low budget look (CGI bullet wounds from 2004) and sets taken straight from an Asylum film.
    Not worth worrying about though. The 16 year olds on Rotten Tomatoes can have it. Being angry about this film is a waste of energy, a bit like getting angry that a wall is beige.

  4. Absolute pile of shite. Couldn’t finish it. Terrible story, shit characters, laden with stereotypes and tropes. It’s nice to have gay and lesbian characters, BUT WHY IS THE WRITING SO AWFUL. Why not just make an ad for the US military instead. “Yeah, go git those terrorists” That’s essentially what this film is with a sprinkling of immortality. A few fight scenes later and the boredom will never end. Pointless and plotless.

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