With Covid-19 closing movie theaters around the world, many of us are relying on streaming services for new entertainment. Netflix has released several films over the course of the pandemic, its latest the hit action thriller “The Old Guard.” Reaching millions of new homes and proving to be a major hit for Netflix, such success cannot save this film from its overwhelming stupidity.
Charlize Theron stars as an immortal mercenary named Andy who — along with her four fellow invincible assassins — have been alive for thousands of years, suffering dozens of fatal injuries over the years that somehow always heal. When the group is set up to be captured by a corrupt pharmaceutical company to copy their genes in order to prevent other humans from suffering, Andy enlists the help of a United States Marine, who they recently discovered to be one of their special kind after being unfazed by a fatal injury in Afghanistan.
“The Old Guard” might have worked out if its plot wasn’t as ridiculous. The idea that a group of immortals would be challenged by anybody, let alone a nerdy pharmaceutical CEO is rather baffling, and as an audience, we never really feel like there’s any competition to make things fun and exciting. Further, the great Chiwetel Ejiofor is left on the sidelines with not much to say and is restricted from showing off his acting talents.
The action genre has suffered for years from a lack of originality. Not only does “The Old Guard” resort to cliche plot points and cringeworthy, regurgitated dialogue, but the film also fails to have fun with itself and create any sense of escapism. The lame, unexciting action and dislikable, one-dimensional characters with forced development make it nearly impossible to care about the story and all of those involved. The moment I realized that I did not truly want the characters and protagonist to succeed because of how fake and simplistic they were is when I realized that this film was a colossal failure.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood does nothing as a filmmaker to excite her audience. From start to finish her film gets progressively worse and more off-putting. Not even can this director get her music choice right, for her action sequences feel laughable and almost seem like a spoof due to their atrocious direction. There were times in this film that I had to laugh due to how ridiculously awful the acting and filmmaking was.
After 2015’s monumental miracle of a movie “Mad Max: Fury Road,” considered by many — including me — to be the single greatest action film of all time, Charlize Theron has been one of Hollywood’s top picks for action films. While “Fury Road” is no doubt a spectacular work of art, Theron’s performance is not the reason. Hollywood seems to think that she can play any action role despite not being that interesting or engaging of an actor. Her film “Atomic Blonde” from 2017 may have had style and energy, yet “The Old Guard” proves Theron isn’t enough to make an action film work.
In a year where the number of new movies we have available is severely limited, it’s essential to avoid garbage like “The Old Guard.” This is one of the very worst movies of 2020 and a disaster in every sense of the word.