Andy (Charlize Theron) has been fighting for righteous causes for a long time – not years or decades, but centuries. The “Old Guard” team she leads may not look ancient, but they, too, have been around for ages. Immortality means no matter how the battle turns out, those who possess it will heal and be back to fight another day.
Andy, however, is exhausted, tired of being shot or stabbed to death and then rising like a phoenix. Originally, Andy and Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo) were the only immortals, until they were accused of being witches and separated. Andy survived and escaped, but was never able to find Quynh. Andy’s team now consists of Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli).
In Morocco, Booker arranges a meeting with a former CIA agent, Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who asks them to rescue young girls who were kidnapped and are being held in Afghanistan. Andy is reluctant to take on another assignment, but she agrees and the four are soon en route. When they arrive at the location, there are no girls and Andy realizes they have been set up by Copley. After being killed by mercenaries, the immortals come back to life and dispatch their assassins.
The entire event is being watched by Merrick (Harry Melling), CEO of a pharmaceutical company, who wanted evidence that what Copley told him was true – that these four have the key to conquer death. He wants the immortals captured and brought to his laboratory where his researchers can basically use them as lab rats to extract their genetic secrets.
Before they can leave Afghanistan, Andy has a dream about a young soldier who was killed in a battle with a terrorist. Despite having her throat slashed – her death witnessed by several other soldiers – her wound heals. It’s been a long time since another immortal was found and Andy knows she has to get to the young woman fast. Telling the other three to continue to hunt down Copley, she makes her way to the army camp.
The young woman, Nile (Kiki Layne), is terrified, not understanding how she’s still alive. The other soldiers are frightened, particularly the young woman who held Nile while she bled out. The army has already decided to move her and Andy knows the story they spin will not benefit Nile. Andy quickly dispatches the army guards, knocks Nile out, and steals a military vehicle to make their getaway.
Nile, rejecting what Andy tells her, tries to escape and the two women fight. Nile proves herself a worthy opponent, but she sustains a serious wound and once again heals. She begins to understand that what Andy says is true and that her life will never be the same.
Nile learns more about the immortals, and about Andy, particularly, when they unite with Booker, Joe, and Nicky. Andy is held in high regard by those she commands and the stories they spin, while she is not present, fill in details about the battles she has waged dating back to the Crusades. These immortals, however, do have a shelf life, albeit a long one, and when Andy’s recent injury – a deep cut to the shoulder – won’t heal, she begins to think her time is running out. Before that happens, however, she’s determined that her team stop what Copley and Merrick are trying to do.
Directed with a sure hand by Gina Prince-Bythewood, with a screenplay by Greg Rucka, adapted from the graphic he wrote with Leandro Fernandez, The Old Guard gives Theron plenty of opportunities to display her athletic abilities. There are, as one might expect, plenty of fight scenes, but although bloody, they have a balletic quality to them that’s fun to watch.
Based on the ending, we probably haven’t seen the last of these immortals. Although whether Theron’s Andy survives is question.
The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix.
Top photo: (L to R) Marwan Kenzari as Joe, Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker, Charlize Theron as Andy, Luca Marinelli as Nicky, Kiki Layne as Nile.
Photo Credit: Aimee Spinks/Netflix ©2020