Based on the graphic novels of the same name, The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron, is one of the best modern independent comic adaptations to grace the big screen in recent memory, AMC’s Preacher was pretty solid too.
But one of the unfortunate things about The Old Guard is the problematic trailer. I was informed by some people to go in knowing as little as possible, so I avoided the trailer itself. My partner was not so lucky, and some of the twists and turns in the first third of the film were all spoiled in that trailer, which I have since seen.
But it poses a larger problem. How do you review something where even the trailer gives away too much? You don’t. This isn’t a review, so much as a commentary on the film and an editorial about how not knowing, for entertainment purposes, can be better and more fulfilling than knowing.
At this time, I would vehemently suggest that if you haven’t watched The Old Guard yet, you stop reading and continue after you have viewed it. You have thusly been warned, let’s move on.
The Old Guard graphic novels written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Leandro Fernandez are described as a sort of A-Team, mercenaries for hire with a very specific ability that other mercenaries lack. The trailer jumps right in and just flat out makes it very clear that these are not humans, or at least, not normal humans.
Image Comics has a description of The Old Guard as “the story of old soldiers who never die…and yet cannot seem to fade away. Trapped in an immortality without explanation, Andromache of Scythia – ‘Andy’ – and her comrades ply their trade for those who can find-and afford-their services. But in the 21st century, immortality is a hard secret to keep, and when you live long enough, you learn that there are many fates worse than death.”
While Netflix describes it as “four undying warriors who’ve secretly protected humanity for centuries become targeted for their mysterious powers just as they discover a new immortal.”
Having not read the graphic novels, both of these descriptions work for the film, but what I find interesting is they don’t hide the immortality, and the first double-cross that the movie takes some time to set up, is shown as a setup, revealing their immortality in the trailer, making the payoff for those who have not seen it, really amazing, and for those who saw the trailer, it’s a lot of setup for something you already know the outcome of.
And despite that, those people who, unlike me, did see the trailer, and knew what was going to happen, still have the same opinion of the film, that it is good. And for good reason. The writing is spectacular, the acting is great, and the stunts are phenomenal. It is everything you want from an action flick, and yet it doesn’t feel like a typical action flick. It feels like it has more charisma than most action flicks, more to the point, it has more heart, more feeling, more emotion.
And while that could be on the actors, it’s actually embedded into the characters they are portraying, and the lines of dialog that were written for them. If this is the action film of the future sign me up, just please stop giving away the farm in the trailer.
Additionally, Preacher, which I was a fan of, came from comics, Valerian, came from comics, and The Old Guard comes from comics. Neither of the three was from DC or Marvel. Is the race on to find more “off the grid” properties? No, it’s in full swing. The question now is, how many will actually see the light of day, and how many of them will be good?
But, with Peacock as yet another new streaming service, and all of the services looking for new programming… It’s nice to know that good writing can transcend the media. It’s nice to know that an action film doesn’t have to be void of emotion. So, if you still haven’t seen it yet, I’ve spoiled as little as possible, in fact, I have only spoiled as much as the trailer, so make the time and watch The Old Guard. You’ll enjoy yourself. You really will.
And then, as I may do myself, go check out the source material, in the graphic novels, because this is more than just a film, as Preacher is more than just a television series, and Valerian is more than just one movie.