THE OLD GUARD. Netflix, 20 July 2020. Charlize Theron as Andy / Andromache of Scythia,
KiKi Layne as Nile Freeman, a former US Marine, Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker / Sebastian Le Livre, once a French soldier who fought under Napoleon, Marwan Kenzari as Joe / Yusuf Al-Kaysani, a Muslim warrior who had participated in the Crusades, Luca Marinelli as Nicky / Niccolò di Genova, a former Crusader, Chiwetel Ejiofor as James Copley, former CIA agent, Harry Melling as Steven Merrick, greedy CEO of a pharmaceutical empire. Screenplay: Greg Rucka, based on his comic book of the same title. Director. Gina Prince-Bythewood .

   If you’ve read any amount of science fiction, you’ve probably come across the premise of this recent Netflix release before, or something close to it. A band of immortal vigilantes find themselves in a new situation on two fronts: First, they discover that there is a fellow immortal who they must incorporate into their group, a young female marine and the first such recruit in several hundred years. Secondly, their existence is leaking out into the real world, and the villainous head of Merrick Pharmaceuticals wanted their secret to “help the world,” but the profit incentive is his real obsessive purpose.

   Even if there’s nothing very much new in all this, the movie is both well filmed and well acted. Being killed and finding yourself coming back to life over and over again can extract a terrible mental toll on a person. Charlize Theron as Andromache of Scythia, is the oldest of the group, and their de facto leader, and more than her own personal beauty she manages to display a weariness that weighs so heavily on her after so many centuries of life.

   KiKi Layne, as the new addition to the group and the other of the two female leads, is also very impressive, showing both disbelief at first to her new status, then the agony of learning that she is now being forced to leave her family behind. Only the supervillain hard on the group’s trail shows the film’s comic book roots, but as such, once again, that aspect of the story is also most excellently done.

   There’s lots of guns and other bloody action involved, as well as hand to hand combat, for those for favor that aspect of watching thriller extravaganzas such as this, but I found the personal side of the film, and the characters in it, were what made spending the two hours with them all the more worthwhile.