Subhash K Jha reviews The Old Guard

Review Of The Old Guard: More Fun Than Any Recent Super-Hero Film

The Old Guard (Netflix)

Starring Charlize Theron, Kiki Lane, Matthias Schoenaerts,Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli Chiwetel Ejiofor

Directed by Gina Prince Bythewood

Rating: ***(3 stars)

If you are a Charlize Theron fan as I am, you would find it as easy to accept her as the disfigured prostitute in Monster as you would find it to accept her as an immortal warrior in the Old Guard. This is a surprisingly charming take on the super-hero theme. Admittedly, much of the charm stems from Ms Theron’s ability to transform into a kickass warrior with the ferocity of Spiderman, the tenacity of Wonder Woman, the vivacity of Catwoman, and audacity of James Bond.

Gosh, am I overdoing the encomium? Not if we go by the success of this deftly imagined skilfully directed comicbook adaptation where Ms Theron leads a quintet of committed imperishable combatants. This doesn’t mean she occupies every frame. On the contrary, for a super-hero film The Old Guard serves up a surprisingly balanced streetwise gourmet dish of polished production and raw-energized violence.

Sometimes a woman’s uncommon common-sense instills an intuitive delectable sense of genre-pampering to the proceedings.

Though the divine Ms Theron occupies centrestage she has for company a very attractive young black actress Kiki Lane for company as a young woman gradually learning of her immortality. And not quite relishing it.The scenes between Theron and Lane crackle with nervous energy suppressed and sublimated by our preordained knowledge that these tough women won’t die.

But really, the central attraction of the plot is Charlize Theron’s two recruits Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky(Luca Marinelli) who are gay lovers. Kenzari’s scoffing monologue on the virtues of his ‘boyfriend’ in front of a bunch of homophobic soldiers has already acquired the status of a cult episode. The monologue’s poetic defiance stand out in a movie that is no walkover.

Smart sassy and thoroughly engaging, The Old Guard is sinfully skillful in converting the super-hero genre into trendy currency. The fight pieces are choreographed with …err…deathly concentration. Or, perhaps, ‘deathly’ is not the correct description where the average age of each protagonist is 5,000 years. I swear Ms Theron looks no older than 2,000.

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