Immortals: can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em. No – literally.
They’ve been on Earth for millennia, four unkillable, battle-hardened mercenaries, led by Charlize Theron, in jeans so tight I can see the outline of her cock.
Theron is Andromache of Scythia (“Andy”), the oldest of the four warriors, her name of Greek goddess origin; there’s Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), a Frenchman from the Napoleonic wars, his name, I guess, of librarian origin; and Joe and Nicky (Marwan Kenzai and Luca Marinelli), from The Crusades, a gay couple that can kick your ass. Together they are – THE OLD GUARD, selling their expertise as dark mercenaries worldwide, always one step ahead of discovery as immortal librarians.
But in today’s social media dungheap, it’s impossible to remain incognito. When their secret is discovered by a client named Copley, they disappear once more – until a new Immortal appears, and Andy risks discovery to bring the newbie a tight pair of trousers.
The great Chiwetel Ejiofor is Copley, who sends Andy’s team on the fake mission – into a trap, gunned down by soldiers. After they fall, the bullets push out of their healing wounds, they resurrect, and annihilate the soldiers. So technically, they DO die, but come back again. Like zombies, except not gory. More like Jesus, the nice clean zombie. The comical thing about this scene is the WAY they die – they’re not thrown backwards from the heavy-gauge machine-gun fire – instead, they jerk around like Hong Kong stuntmen in a John Woo film, before they fall.
Copley filmed their resurrection, having tracked them for decades. He works for a maniacal CEO named Merrick (Harry Melling – Harry Potter’s cousin, all grown up, with his eyes still too close together! Boy, is that a punchable face!). Merrick’s experimenting on human lifespan, so when Copley brings Andy’s team in on a double-cross, Merrick’s gonna hurt them not just for research, but because it makes his trousers tight (in that psycho-sexual way). “There is genetic code inside you which could help every human being on Earth. I’m going to carve pieces off you for years.” This guy needs an Expelliarmus so bad. The old weaponize-monetize-dehumanize plot device, with Copley turning against Merrick, naively thinking, “This is about science, not profits, or sadism.” He obviously hasn’t seen ANY Harry Potter films (i.e. magic who cares fuck you).
KiKi Layne is Nile, a young Marine in Afghanistan, in a troop made up of only women. Is Prince running this regiment? Killed by a freedom fighter [cough-terrorist] and back to life the next day – she’s the new Immortal Andy seeks – Nile’s lesbian troops react the same way the villagers did in HIGHLANDER; terrified, transferring her out of the Prince regiment. Before she can slide into the Lenny Kravitz regiment, Andy intercepts her, “You’re not a Marine any more,” and shoots her to prove it. She mumbles over Nile’s corpse: “Why does it take so long the first coupla times?” Cut the smug, woman! You took TWICE as long in that opening scene.
Based on his 2017 graphic novel mini-series with artist Leandro Fernandez, Greg Rucka screenplays, and Gina Prince-Bythewood directs (I KNEW there was a Prince involved). Rucka adds one caveat in the movie: “One day your wounds just don’t heal up anymore – we don’t know when or why.” You can guess whose wounds suddenly don’t heal up… Giving us both ends of the spectrum: Andy, for whom jaded life suddenly becomes precious, and her protégé Nile, who realizes her full potential for an explosive life.
Andy is demoralized and exhausted at the world (any wonder, with dumbo donald’s rise to idiocy). Andromache means “man-battler” and Charlize can trace a straight line through FURY ROAD and ATOMIC BLONDE to her battle scenes here with guns and battleaxe, but there’s a little too much hard closeup cutting to make all that battle ballet worthwhile – for the actors OR the viewer. And through Copley’s dossiers, we see Andy’s team changed the world not only through rivers of blood, but also when rivers ran dry.
That old cliché “And you will know what it is to lose everyone you’ve ever loved,” is given a kick in the groin with Andy’s lost love Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo), drowned as a witch in an iron coffin; the unthinkable horror is that she’s an immortal, resurrecting and drowning eternally – her watery grave unknown to Andy! And when a soldier mocks Joe’s “boyfriend” and Joe poignantly describes their love as transcendent – it DOESN’T ring true. Not because it’s about gay love, but because I don’t know any intolerant bigots who would let Joe finish without whapping him with their rifle-butt and calling him a faggot.
Interesting themes, well-written motivations and some intrusive wokeness, THE OLD GUARD proves there’s nothing as immortal as a tight pair of trousers.