2.5 out of 5 stars
Immortality is a subject that pervades every culture. Philosophers, scholars and the armchair conspiracy theorists have pondered the concept throughout the ages. They ask the fundamental questions of how to achieve this continual state and if it is a blessing or a curse? For all of those interested, no realm takes on these questions more than in the world of graphic novels. The Old Guard is the latest team of immortals that wrestles and fights with their own eternality.
This is a centuries-old storyline that focuses on a band of warriors who have fought on different sides of history. Led by Andromache ("Andy") of Scythia (Charlize Theron), this small, but capable team travels to the latest battlefield to assist with turning the tide. They work with a certain level of anonymity for years. Still, in this world where everyone has a camera in their pocket, this element of their lives becomes difficult. Especially when they become the focus of an investigation by CIA operative Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has personal and professional purposes for tracking this group down.
The agent manages to get this elusive squad together for a mission to liberate a group of kidnapped children in South Sudan. A trap that leads them to be discovered by pharmaceutical executive Steven Merrick (Harry Melling). This tycoon of pharma sees their powers as the latest method of marketing eternity to the world. Which leads him to put together a plan to capture Andy and her band of warriors for the express purpose of extracting everything he can from them for his financial gain. Turning this into a game of cat and mouse that occurs from country to country and is hampered by the discovery of a new inductee to the team, U.S. Marine Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne). A soldier who is unaware of her unique gifts until she wakes up after a life-ending event in Afghanistan. It is during her indoctrination into the Old Guard that things become difficult as the team must try to allude Merrick and his team.
What needs to be clear for people who are just getting introduced to this world that was created by Greg Rucka is that these are soldiers, not superheroes. Each of these eternal figures is meant to be defined by conflict and their response to it. They all come from different points in history and have a spiritual bond that draws them together and allows them to fight through a unique connection.
Andy is from Central Eurasia, becoming immortal around 4700 B.C., while Nile is an American Marine who discovered her abilities in 2019. Nicolo (Nicky) played by Luca Marinelli and Yusuf (Joe) played by Marwan Kenzari are two soldiers who fought on opposing sides during the First Crusade. Once they stopped fighting one another, they discovered they were not only immortal, but in love with one another. Even though the others were alone through this journey, these men become lovers and fight alongside one another. The final member to round out the team is Sébastien “Booker” Lelivre (Matthias Schoenaerts) who joined the group around 1812 during the Napoleonic Wars.
The film does go to flashbacks of their battles in history. Still, the majority of the close-quarters action in this Netflix film is primarily a means of survival. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood utilises a John Wick method of action while streaming together the backstory of this uncommon team. The Old Guard is an admirable attempt at an origin story of graphic novel characters who will be new to the majority of the world. A film that mixes a degree of social commentary with a high level of military fighting. It is adventures like these that incorporate dialogue and violence that will cause this to be limited in its viewer accessibility, but does introduce the world to a new set of intriguing characters. Which proves to be an admirable twist on a familiar trope for those missing their regular dose of Marvel and DC films.
REEL DIALOGUE: Do you want to live forever?
The Old Guard breaks down the door to discussion points like revenge, grief, justice, sexuality and more. Without adding in any spoilers, one element that this film opens the discussion on is immortality. The team is given the gift or maybe the curse of regeneration and eternal life. Something that they value, but do regret as the years continue on for each of them. Leaving this film with a violent, disheartening and unappealing form of eternal life for all involved.
This is where the promise of eternal life that comes from the God of the Bible turns things upside down. It is not based in the world of Hollywood, but a description that goes beyond human comprehension. To dig in deeper, it’s all there to be considered in Revelation 21-22.
Where the world of super-humans merely makes the world messier, God has an offer for eternal life that provides comfort and solace.
Where can I find the answers to reconcile myself to God? Luke 15:11-32, Ephesians 4:32, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4