Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Old Guard


A group of immortals, (Charlize Theron, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, and Luca Marinelli) whose bodies heal themselves from any injury, go around the world and get themselves in dangerous situations in the two-fold hope that they'll do some good in the world... and that maybe someday they'll die.

If that sounds like an interesting, exciting flick to you, then I'm sorry to report: that isn't what actually happens in the movie. That is the premise of the characters' existence, only. The plot of the movie is that a new immortal (KiKi Layne) becomes known to them in a vision directly after they mess up on one of those said missions and get some bad guys on their tail. (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling) They have to find and recruit her to their ranks before facing down the baddies who want to study them for a cure for death.

My one hope was that it'd be better than Bloodshot. No dice.

Even that sounds more exciting than the movie winds up being. It's Deadpool without the comedy, and half the action. It's a long series of droning conversations about things that are more ambiguous than deep, inter-cut occasionally with quota-filling fight scenes that do nothing to drive the plot forward. Sometimes action happens off screen, then when the character who witnessed it relates the event to the others, the movie flashes back so we can see it, too. It's desperate to put in as much action as possible, but it can't keep itself from those meaningless conversations in which people who are hundreds of years old act like whiny children, cynical of their own existence.

There really aren't any positive sides to it for me, but if you tend to enjoy action -- fight scenes with hands, guns, and swords kind of stuff, complete with improbable choreography -- then this movie does have that going for it. Shaky cam has finally, and thankfully, died, so you can see what's going on in the film, and none of the set pieces are too extravagant to need an excess of CGI. A good thing, because the CGI isn't great. (when is it ever?) Still, the fights aren't particularly exciting, filmed typically, and without stakes in the narrative to back it up.

They spend the whole movie telling us why we should care, and never give us a reason to.

The film opens on the group complaining, and arguing over whether they should take another "case", which made me instantly not care about them. There's only four yet they're developed so shallowly. Charlize is the whiny leader, Matthias is handsome, and the other two are gay. (And Marwan was Jafar in that awful live action Aladdin!) That's it. The new girl isn't better developed, but she starts off on a good, likable foot. She's a marine who's killed in action, and once she wakes up, the confused reaction and mistrust from her unit is the most compelling slice of story the film has to offer. I wish they'd focused the story down to her.

Instead they fight nonthreatening or uncommitted bad guys (or their red-shirt henchmen with laughably bad training) until the plot is resolved because enough people have been killed to render it inert. And the new group goes off again, to do their thing of exotic locations and extreme, daring, dangerous missions for the good of mankind. Wouldn't that have been nice to see. Clearly a sequel is desired. But now we've been disappointed and bored out of wanting one.

No comments:

Post a Comment