The Old Guard review – the obligatory same old, same old

July 7, 2020 (Last updated: 3 days ago)
M.N. Miller 2
Film, Film Reviews, Netflix


Netflix’s The Old Guard is a standard, obligatory comic book action film that will leave you with Bloodshot eyes.

Netflix’s The Old Guard is based on the best-selling comic book series of the same name illustrated by Leandro Fernandez, a critically acclaimed Argentine artist who is a hot commodity among all the comic book companies like Marvel and Vertigo. The film adaption focuses on a group of immortal mercenaries who are hundreds upon hundreds of years old because they can heal from any injury they suffer — nothing is fatal (please note, this is a must-have for a soldier’s resume builder under the “skills” section).

Their group is led by Andromache the Scythian or “Andy” (Charlize Theron, which is ironic since she hasn’t really aged a day in her life, but she was replaced for a younger version of her character in the Mad Max prequel) of a soldier in a tight-knit group of four. They have to be since they can’t form relationships and families of their own to keep their secret safe. The team (which includes The Mustang’s Matthias Schoenaerts), after a mission set up by their confidant Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), all have a joint vision of solider named Nile (If Beale Street Could Talk’s Kiki Layne) who survives a knife to the throat in battle and speeds off to catch her before the government gets their hands on her. There is no doubt this film will leave you with Bloodshot eyes.

It’s really hard to imagine that Director Gina Prince-Blythewood (Love & Basketball) has her name associated with this film that has so many obligatory action clichés from talented actors — so much so, right out of the gate you have Ejiofor’s Copley telling the group that they are the only ones he trusts and the standard, pissed-off hero taking down a camera after talking into it. The usual lines of, “Listen, kid,” and, “Why is this happening to me?” also make an appearance. Though, let’s give them credit for a fairly quickly reveal of a villain — at least they had the courtesy to unveil it within the first 15 minutes since it was so painfully obvious.

The issue remains there are very few surprises in the film and none in their back pocket because if you watched the trailer or are a fan of the comic book, you know about the movie’s immortality plotline in the first place. For all the bells and whistles the film has it really is a standard action film with your trope villain and the same corporate mentality of making money over human life.

Then there is the little question of movies like this with immortal characters that is never answered — when exactly did this ability settle in? I know most of these handsome thespians age slowly to begin with, but how come none of them look 16-years old the rest of their lives or like Benjamin Button at the end his life?

Despite all of that, these are the usual issues that are almost waived off in any action or comic book film made today. There is such a tightrope you need to walk when trying to launch a film with a series of source material like The Old Guard’s graphic novel series. The usual complaint is the script takes too much time to establish the mythology or backstory, and that is a key problem here with Greg Rucka’s (Whiteout) and Fernandez’s script that slows the film down to a halt in its first half. The themes and moral dilemmas presented are excessively contrite and manipulative while doing nothing to elevate the material from a below-average comic book picture.

The Old Guard does have a couple of good to very well-coordinated action set pieces and Theron more than holds her own here. She is the type of actress who can jump from genre to genre with ease, and has. However, she still hasn’t found the right action franchise yet to use her considerable gifts and talents; well, she had one, and it’s a true shame she wasn’t immortal enough to continue with a Mad Max series, and The Old Guard isn’t the one to get her there.

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2 thoughts on “The Old Guard review – the obligatory same old, same old

  • December 13, 2020 at 1:40 am

    You certainly missed the boat on this one. First, while Leandro Fernandez is the artist for The Old Guard graphic novel, it is Greg Rucka who wrote both the graphic novel and the script. Also, “same old, same old”? I guess you’ve seen many other action films with two main characters who are a gay couple with a young Black female leading the charge to win a fight against a horde of white guys in tach gear — oh wait, there are no other action movies like this. How can a review not mention this and fail to mention the names of any of the other actors? I hope it’s not because you are both racist and homophobic.

    • December 13, 2020 at 4:48 am


      While I understand and admire your passion, and support your right to freedom of speech, your assumptions are misguided here. The simple omission of mentioning two relatively small characters comes down to space and simply trying to withhold a nice plot point to not ruin it for the viewer.

      I would refer you to reviews I have written (including my 2018 & 2019 top ten list) on The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Luce, Queen & Slim, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, If Beale Street Could Talk, Pain & Glory, Sorry to Bother You, and my favorite film of the last decade, Blindspotting, or my opinion piece “The Academy’s White Compromise Problem”, to judge if I’m a racist or homophobic.

      Since you don’t know me at all and feel so comfortable making statements about my alleged racism and homophobia, allow me to point out the following: I am married to a beautiful, dark-skinned, East Indian woman, and have seen my wife victimized by racism (and not even including the issues of being an interracial couple in other’s eyes), so I find your statement insulting. As a man who has a family member who is homosexual, I find your statement hurtful and puzzling based on what I have written. Considering my bachelor’s degree and that I’m currently finishing up my master’s in social work, your assumptions about my character does go against my morals, values, and ethics.

      You’re trying to smash a puzzle piece into an argument that doesn’t fit and are ignoring the points I made on why it’s the “same old, same old”. It has to do with the film’s story and plot points, nothing more.

      I’m glad the movie spoke to you in a way it didn’t speak to me. These words are simply my opinion, and all film criticism is subjective.



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