In Netflix's The Old Guard, a small band of warriors get shot, stabbed, and blown to pieces, again, and again, and again. Then, they get right back up — and that's when the killing begins.
The Old Guard stars Charlize Theron as Andy, the leader of this troupe of undying killers who have long since traded plate mail for flak jackets (no idea why), automatic weapons, and special operations tactics. That said, they still find an excuse to bust out swords and axes whenever they can.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is based on a graphic novel series of same name by Greg Rucka, and is set to premiere on Netflix July 10.
The team of ancient fighters, who have seen combat, and died, in every conflict from the Crusades to the War of 1812 and beyond, are joined by Nile (KiKi Layne), a U.S. Marine who is killed in Afghanistan only to wake up days later without a scratch on her.
But, after several hundred years of walking through gunfire and shrugging off mortal wounds, people start to take notice. And so, a nefarious pharmaceutical company, led by evil pharma bro Merrick (Harry Melling), and its private army of goons set out to capture Andy's squad of death-defying warriors.
Sure, the plot may be over the top, but honestly ask yourself: How many movies has that really held back? After all, the entirety of the wildly popular, John Wick franchise revolves around a retired hitman who goes on a bloody rampage because some assholes killed his dog, then stole his car, then blew up his house.
Like the John Wick movies The Old Guard's charm rests in the action, which unsurprisingly involved a few John Wick alum like Taran Butler, who helped train Theron and Layne in marksmanship (as well as Keanu Reeves and the rest of the cast for the Wick series.)
“For most movies nowadays, the audience is smarter than ever,” Butler said in a press statement pegged to the film's release. “They want to see the actors do the grunt work, the hard stuff: manipulating the guns, doing the reloads, and being behind the gun the right way. Otherwise it just takes you out of the movie.”
The evidence of that training is all over The Old Guard, from the hyper-stylized speed-reloads, to the coordinated movements of the immortals as they clear rooms — occasionally stepping in front of one another to absorb gunfire as a teammate fights off an attacker. It's also present in the dizzying array of firearms, which is like a sampler platter plucked straight from first-person shooters like Call of Duty.
All of these elements — the intensive weapons training actors now undergo to the detailed fight sequences to the obsession with guns that borders on the pornographic — are part of a growing trend in action blockbusters.
And despite its paranormal and plucked-from-the-comics plot, The Old Guard is able to hold its own alongside the likes of Extraction, John Wick, and all the shoot-first, write-a-story-later action flicks that have come out in recent years.
So, if you're heading into the weekend and debating how to kill a few hours, consider watching Theron and her army of immortal operators dispense carnage and soak up bullets like regenerating sponges. It probably won't win any awards, but it'll keep you entertained — and sometimes that's just what you need.