The Old Guard
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writer: Greg Rucka
Starring: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Rated: R for sequences of graphic violence, and language
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: A group of almost-immortal soldiers are hunted by a pharmaceutical mogul who looks to unlock their DNA and monetize their mysterious powers.
Review: “The Old Guard” plays coy for the first ten or fifteen minutes as it pretends to be “Mission: Impossible” as a team of do-good mercenaries led by Andy (Charlize Theron) reconvene for the kind of mission that they swore they would never do. But the allure of getting the band back together again is stronger than the instinct to turn and walk away.
It’s all a little by the numbers right up to the point when the supernatural elements kick in. From there, it’s an interesting ride that alternates between flashbacks to the distant past and the here and now. I’m more interested in the past, which is problematic, but not a complete deal breaker. The contemporary story simply feels a little too familiar.
You see, and this isn’t a spoiler, these for-hire soldier can’t be killed. Gun them down and they get back up. Why? No one really knows. Connected by dreams and shared visions, they operate in the shadows, but Merrick (Harry Melling), a megalomaniac CEO of a pharmaceutical company, has heard rumors of their existence and hires a former CIA agent (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to track them down. When found, Merrick intends to turn them into lab rats and discover their secrets.
Knowing they are being hunted, Andy and her team would typically scatter and fade away into legend, but they’ve discovered Nile (KiKi Layne), a African-American soldier, has the gift and will need their guidance.
Ultimately, I’m more interested in the world of “The Old Guard” than I am in the film itself. Still, those looking for a summer blockbuster could do far worse. The performances are strong and director Gina Prince-Bythewood manages to bring some order to a narrative that frequently feels like it is about to go off the rails.
The film is set up to be a franchise. I'm excited by the possibilities for potential sequels and prequels.