The Old Guard (2020) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 7

directing 7

effects 7

editing 7

writing 7

SW SCORE: 35

3.5 out of 5 🐙

++

You had me at “Charlize Theron,” the sexiest as kicking female on the planet (see Mad Max: Fury Road). You also had me at “a covert team of immortal mercenaries”. Highlander was my jam when I was a padawan in the 80s. 

The stuff I liked: the fight style was slightly derivative of John Wick-fu but different enough to claim it’s own. I enjoyed how the immortals combined the use of modern and ancient weapons in the same fight sequence. The acting was sharp. Led by Charlize Theron and KiKi Lane (and buoyed by Matthias Schoenaerts), there were no false notes. The gay relationship was a welcome entry to the superhero movie library. Chiwetel Ejiofor adds class and resonance to every frame he inhabits. Gina Prince-Bythewood keeps the pace engaging and there are few if any dull spots. The villain has a reasonable altruistic veneer to his megalomania. he wants to bring eternal life to all of humanity. he just wants to bring it before his competitors do so I’m thinking eternal life ain’t gonna be pro bono. Greg Rucka, who wrote the source graphic novel and the screenplay, peppers his dialogue with spicy meatballs like the following:

“She stabbed me so i think she has potential.”

“How old is andy?” “She doesn’t remember.”

“I will cut slices off you for years to get what I want.”

The only thing I really didn’t care for was the soundtrack. I didn’t know most of the songs because I am old and uncool so if you are young and/or cool, you may well love the soundtrack. I just gotta speak my truth. They also stole a bit from John Woo’s The Killer and Raimi’s Spider-man 2 but I’m not saying that’s a real bad thing. Everybody steals. Call it an homage. 

The only thing I was neutral about was the “immortal speech”. This is the speech given by every immortal character to a newly immortal character whose super excited about being immortal. This is a required trope in this subgenre. Believe it or not, I thought it was most touchingly done in the mockumentary ‘What We Do in the Shadows”

To wit:

“This is what happens when you’re a vampire. You have to watch everyone die. Your mother and father. All your friends. Sometimes brutal, like slipping and falling onto a giant spike. Or falling asleep in an autumn pile of leaves and having some of them block your windpipe. Or making the simple mistake of fashioning a mask out of crackers and being attacked by ducks, geese, swans. Or even dying of old age, but even old age is brutal. Watching your friends grow old. They can’t piss, and they say stupid things, and their brains go, and they can’t remember anything. And then one day they can’t even remember who you are, and you wish they were dead, and then they do die.”

That speech breaks my fucking heart. Theron delivers a somber version of that but it feels a bit predictable. 

All in all, it was a new story in the most dominant genre in film today: the comic book based flick. Coming fresh is an impressive feat and doing it well is one louder. I look forward to more from this creative team (spoiler alert: the last scene is an explicit sequel setup and it looks fun!).

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

One thought on “The Old Guard (2020) (mini-review++)

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