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  Old Guard, The Getting On A Bit
Year: 2020
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Stars: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo, Natacha Karam, Mette Towley, Anamaria Marinca, Micheal Ward, Shala Nyx, Majid Essaidi, Joey Ansah, Andrei Zayats
Genre: Action, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a team of four other immortals who have devoted themselves to being mercenaries - for the right price, they will carry out your special ops, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you should hire... these guys. But being immortal carries a heavy burden, not least because there will always be those down history taking an unhealthily close interest in your activities, and your potential. Their contact in the CIA is Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has a proposition for them to head off to Sudan and rescue a class of schoolgirls, so after mulling it over Andy agrees this meets her criteria of a positive act. However, there is a nasty surprise waiting...

The Old Guard was yet another Netflix action, er, flick that they had been churning out on a seeming conveyor belt, hiring notable stars and directors because they were spending money like water, as ever. But yet again the results were a letdown, for in their attempts to be modern and up to the moment, they alienated many of the pretty conservative action movie fans, which would not be so bad if the results were anything like as progressive as they appeared to believe. They really were not, and the use of violence reflected more on the comic book origins and how that medium had become a disappointment in the twentieth century, surpassed by the films and TV they inspired.

Basically, comics like the one which The Old Guard had adapted were violence delivery systems, and as they grew more pretentious as they scrabbled around for new ideas, the screen versions merely ended up as watered down variations on that, not much in the way of entertainment for all but the least demanding. Andy was seen recruiting a new immortal, equally androgynously called Nile (KiKi Layne), who is a soldier in Afghanistan, but not one of those who uses torture to get information, she is a nice person so naturally get no results whatsoever in this world. She is murdered by a terrorist, then returns to life and has to be spirited away by Andy, though she takes some convincing.

Meanwhile it has become clear after an ambush in Sudan that a big pharma corporation wants to experiment on the immortals and are willing to kidnap them to get what they desire. Now, in almost every action movie it would be the woman who gets kidnapped, and indeed Nile is kidnapped early on by the good guys, but they opted for a fresher take on that by having the gay couple of immortals kidnapped, to the extent that they spent over half the movie trapped and tortured instead of the females. As you may have noticed, this was far from as advanced as it purported to be for the same old rules were being applied to what were fast becoming new stereotypes; oh, and Andy is kidnapped later anyway, as if they couldn't leave that cliché alone.

Not helping was that the main effect of immortality, aside from the obvious, was to turn you into a smug bastard, so we were asked to invest our time in the tale of an innocent lady soldier who gets to sign up with some obnoxiously self-important aliens from the Planet Zeist (or whatever the excuse for not dying was here). When the bad guys were only measurably terrible in comparison to how not quite as terrible as the goodies were, there was not much amusement to be had, and there was a tedious tendency to have horrible things happen to characters to prove to the audience how serious all this was, how adult and sobering it was supposed to be - or po-faced as it was otherwise known. The action itself was the usual fast-cutting business so as not to exhaust the cast and their stunt doubles, not too exciting, and the knots they tied themselves in to set up a sequel were not exactly enticing. Overall, slick, but soulless, stuff you can't imagine being anyone's favourite action choice. Music by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O'Halloran.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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