‘The Old Guard’ Is an Oasis in the Summer Desert
Netflix continues to bombard viewers with high-priced blockbusters starring popular actors. 6 Underground with Ryan Reynolds, Extraction with Chris Hemsworth and now The Old Guard with Charlize Theron. Well, now that the traditional film industry has paused, it's time to compete for the viewer.
The Old Guard is an adaptation of the comic strip of the same name by Greg Rutsk, or rather, his first volume, subtitled Opening Fire. This is the story of a group of immortal warriors who have survived to our time and are very tired of the burden of the past years and the losses they experienced. Western critics for some reason compare The Old Guard with another adaptation of the comic book - Logan / "Logan: Wolverine" , but this is wrong, rather the film looks like an updated version of Highlander / "Highlander" (1986), with the only difference that the members of the Immortal Guard no need to chop off the heads of competitors, so that in the end there is only one left. There are very few of them, only four, and their main task is simply to survive, not to be hooked by the powers that be, not to expose their immortality.
Actually, the film, like the comics, begins with the Immortal Guard giving its essence to a certain hostile force and almost simultaneously with this somewhere in the world there appears the fifth immortal fighter whom the Guardsmen feel. They must deal with the leak and find a newcomer before he gets unnecessary attention.
The adaptation of the script for The Old Guard was done by the author of the original comic strip, Greg Rutska. It would seem that this is a guarantee that the original will be correctly transferred to the screen ... but something went wrong. Despite the fact that the film as a whole follows the events of the first volume of the comic, some of the small changes that the author made to the script did not benefit the picture. Yes, and the final battle, and some decisions of the immortals look a little more logical, but they lack the reckless daring of the comic.
Perhaps one of the main mistakes of Rutska is the complete ignoring of erotic scenes with Andy, who, according to the comic book, is obsessed with sex, temporarily distracting her from dark thoughts. By the way, the immortal Andromache Scythian in the comic is bisexual, if anyone cares about it. We understand that it would be expensive to undress Charlize Theron in the frame, no budget will stretch, but still. The second mistake is the decrease in the number of flashbacks in which the Guardsmen recall the past. Yes, a few scenes from the original remain, but very few of them. The epic scene of Joe and Nicky meeting during the First Crusade is missing.
By the way, the two men in this film love each other, so if you have problems with the perception of same-sex love, feel free to skip The Old Guard, because this love, which passes through the centuries, is one of the cores of comics and movies. What is missing is the scene of Booker's first death during the Napoleonic Wars. The scene of the loss of Noriko, who for some reason turned into Queen in the film, became completely different, much less romantic, albeit more tragic. Etc. We understand that shooting such short flashbacks would definitely be expensive, but the film would only benefit from them.
Another big problem with The Old Guard is the visual weakness. The original comic strip featured a very stylish drawing by Leonardo Fernandez and a stunning coloring by Daniela Miwa. Alas, the authors of the film did not find either an operator corresponding to the talent of an artist, or a good specialist in post-processing. As a result, The Old Guard looks very pale, like any standard mid-level action movie in the modern setting. It's offensive.
It gets even worse. The staging of shootouts and fights in The Old Guard loses to the head both the recent Extraction and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum . For a film about immortal warriors who know thousands of ways to kill a person, this is just a fiasco. It would be worth inviting Sam Hargrave or Chad Stahelski at least as consultants.
Well, and one more disadvantage, if the listed above were not enough for you - a very weak villain. Merrick in the comic is an uncontrollable charismatic madman like Vaas from Far Cry 3 , in the film version he is more of a moody, stupid kid. I wonder, by the way, if you recognize the actor chosen for this role.
The bottom line is that everything that can attract the audience of The Old Guard is far from the original story of immortal warriors tired of life, and ... a love story of two former enemies that has passed through the centuries. Plus, of course, Charlize Theron. The actress seems to have enjoyed filming action films - Mad Max: Fury Road , Atomic Blonde , The Fate of the Furious , now The Old Guard, and soon the new Fast and the Furious - F9. Well, she looks really good in them, which is really there.
Despite all the disadvantages listed above, you can watch The Old Guard in general, although you should not expect much from it. It's a one-shot movie, but if it gets you interested in the original comic by Greg Rutzk, that's not bad.
PS Yes, the ending scene is a snippet from The Old Guard: Force Multiplied, which started out in 2019, so To Beginning.