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movie reviews the old guard

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Just as Ryan Coogler crafted “ Black Panther ” as an entry in his own directorial universe, Gina Prince-Bythewood casts her Netflix superhero film, “The Old Guard” in her own stylistic image. The director of “Love and Basketball,” “ The Secret Life of Bees ,” and “ Beyond the Lights ” enjoys scenes where her characters get all up in their feelings, and she invites you to climb in there with them. These are some introspective characters, a by-product of their having lived for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Several times, the camera lingers on their faces as they contemplate, or remember, the sadness of losing someone. The film sits patiently with these moments, putting the same level of importance on the characters and their emotions as it does on the action. A scene of Andy ( Charlize Theron ) savoring a piece of baklava carries the same weight as a scene of her cleaving a foe with a gigantic battle ax.

Andy is the eldest member of an elite band of people who appear to be immortal. The opening scene features a flash-forward to their bullet-ridden bodies; a little later, we see them rising up fully healed after this slaughter, spitting out the bullets that have penetrated their faces as they mow down their opponents. This squad of four is about to be joined by a fifth member, Nile ( KiKi Layne ), a Marine stationed in Afghanistan whose slit throat suddenly heals itself. She is also plagued by nightmarish visions of other team members, a psychic link that, according to Booker ( Matthias Schoenaerts ), only shuts down once they have all met. Until Nile showed up, Booker was the Guard’s youngest member, joining in 1812.

Since “ Mad Max: Fury Road ” cemented Theron’s ability to weld her Oscar-winning acting skills onto the bodies of fierce warriors who kick ass, “The Old Guard” treats us to a great, plane-bound fight between Nile and Andy. The two showcase their battle credentials while Andy offers gruesome examples of Nile’s ability to heal. With Nile’s braided, natural hairdo and Andy’s Karen-style coif, their battle plays like an unintentional and vengeful commentary on those angry “can I speak to a manager” videos plaguing social media. What does feel intentional, however, is the inclusivity inherent in the depiction of the immortals, both in flashbacks and in its current timeline. They are played by a variety of different races and it never once feels forced or pandering.

In addition to observing the humanity of its heroes, “The Old Guard” also employs Prince-Bythewood’s penchant for grandiose, melodramatic gestures that shouldn’t work at all yet play out masterfully. Think about Noni on that balcony in “Beyond the Lights,” or Monica setting the terms of the climactic game in “Love and Basketball.” Here, the moment occurs between Andy’s teammates Nicolo ( Luca Marinelli ) and Joe ( Marwan Kenzari ). By virtue of their shared immortality, these men have been together for hundreds of years. They are lovers whose “Meet Cute” occurred when they were constantly killing each other during the Crusades. After they’ve been captured by minions of our villain, the evil pharmaceutical dudebro, Merrick ( Harry Melling ), Joe’s concern for his fallen comrade is mocked with homophobic intent. “Is he your boyfriend?” his captor asks. Joe’s response with a declaration of love as shamelessly florid as it is heartfelt, putting that paltry moment of LGBTQ representation in “ Avengers: Endgame ” to shame.

Writer Greg Rucka , who adapted the graphic novel he wrote with Leandro Fernandez , hits all the standard story beats of this genre. There’s the obvious exception to the immortality rule, an over-the top villain, the villain’s conflicted right hand man ( Chiwetel Ejiofor ), a very sad backstory of torment for Andy, a betrayal, a climactic rescue mission, and even a scene that sets up the sequel. But he and Prince-Bythewood always support these familiarities with their actors’ ability to depict how strongly bound together their characters are. There are numerous scenes where people just talk to each other, either to get exposition out of the way or to propel the story forward, and every time, we come away feeling as if we know these people. So when the torture-filled middle portion kicks in, there is genuine concern for our heroes. These scenes force us to question the terror of being condemned to a lifetime of gruesome medical experiments simply because you cannot shuffle off this mortal coil.

Though it contains more dramatic sequences than most superhero movies, “The Old Guard” doesn’t scrimp on the good, old-fashioned violence. Combat scenes are filmed so you can see who’s doing what, and edited together for maximum carnage and effect by Prince-Bythewood’s usual editor, Terilyn A. Shropshire . Shropshire is a favorite of directors like Kasi Lemmons and, as seen in her work in the first episode of Ava DuVernay's “ When They See Us ,” she’s very good at alternating between intimate drama and the much wider scope of action, keeping both speeds in balance. The cinematography by Barry Ackroyd and Tami Reiker is also quite good; their sequences at night and inside rooms have the same richness as their brightly lit outdoor shots of France and the desert.

"The Old Guard” has the benefit of not carrying the strict, fan-driven baggage of the Marvel and DC movies. As a result, it may not get the attention it deserves. But this is an excellent example of what this type of film can be, one I hope will be studied by the much bigger-budgeted tentpoles you know and love. I can’t remember the last time I was actually pumped to see a sequel based on a “post-credits” teaser—to be honest, I never know what the hell is going on in most of them—but this one made me wish Netflix had switched me immediately to the next installment as the credits rolled.

Now playing on Netflix.

Odie Henderson

Odie Henderson

Odie "Odienator" Henderson has spent over 33 years working in Information Technology. He runs the blogs Big Media Vandalism and Tales of Odienary Madness. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire  here .

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The Old Guard movie poster

The Old Guard (2020)

Rated R for sequences of graphic violence, and language.

118 minutes

Charlize Theron as Andromache of Scythia / Andy

KiKi Layne as Nile Freeman

Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker

Marwan Kenzari as Yusuf Al-Kaysani / Joe

Luca Marinelli as Nicky

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Copley

Harry Melling as Merrick

  • Gina Prince-Bythewood

Writer (based on the graphic novel series by)

Writer (comic book co-creator).

  • Leandro Fernandez


  • Barry Ackroyd
  • Tami Reiker
  • Terilyn A. Shropshire
  • Volker Bertelmann
  • Dustin O'Halloran

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The Old Guard Reviews

movie reviews the old guard

As one of the creators of the original comics, Greg Rucka delivers a screenplay packed with intriguing lore, which is well-explored and well-established for (what should be) the first movie in a new franchise.

Full Review | Original Score: B- | Jul 24, 2023

movie reviews the old guard

Predictable and at times very, very boring, and the music makes it even more anti-climatic. I don't see a saving grace here. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Feb 1, 2023

movie reviews the old guard

On paper it looks like a carbon copy of Highlander but Theron... and a series of entertaining action set pieces that are directed with verve and style by director Gina Prince-Bythewood... prove you can teach The Old Guard new tricks.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 12, 2022

movie reviews the old guard

The themes and moral dilemmas presented are excessively contrite and manipulative while doing nothing to elevate the material from a below-average comic book picture.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Sep 1, 2022

movie reviews the old guard

A new action-superhero mashup from Netflix that sounds a lot better than it ends up being.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Aug 24, 2022

movie reviews the old guard

This epic about immortal soldiers on the lam gets extra points for innovation. Finally, a mainstream action movie features a gay couple as the romantic focal point.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Mar 20, 2022

movie reviews the old guard

Gina Prince-Bythewood's The Old Guard is unlike any other movie based on a graphic novel. She gives us a steady stream of action and a storyline that never bores, and a welcome message about the power of goodness.

Full Review | Original Score: A- | Feb 11, 2022

movie reviews the old guard

The immortals have a powerful female energy driving them forward, which is refreshing to see in a mainstream action film.

Full Review | Dec 7, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

Ambition is not always the best idea in your story. At this point we must know that not everything has to be at the cost of the entire world in action films. Universe-building harmed the story. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 6/10 | Oct 22, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

What saves The Old Guard from being just another cash grab is its dynamic fight scenes, coupled with the evaluation of both the delightful and destructive nature of time.

Full Review | Sep 14, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

If you like Highlander and 6 Underground, you're certainly in for a treat here, as Netflix's latest streaming blockbuster plays like a cross between the two.

Full Review | Aug 8, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

It's a slam-dunk of an action movie. The pace is brisk, the script is solid, the fight scenes brilliantly choreographed.

Full Review | Jul 30, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

Screenwriter Greg Rucka provides a well-conceived script, though a couple of characters make amazingly stupid choices...

Full Review | Jul 19, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

Watch the first 5 minutes of this new Netflix action movie starring Charlize Theron and you'll know literally everything that's going to happen.

Full Review | Jul 14, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

The Old Guard falls back on the familiar a bit too often, but the world it builds and its charismatic cast keep things interesting and offer plenty of potential, even if it doesn't spawn a franchise.

Full Review | Jul 13, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

Prince-Bythewood's direction is without reproach, as is the acting: The characters are nuanced and varied, the pacing balances fast and spectacular fight choreography with scenes that are almost meditative in their intimacy.

Delivered in between a series of flashy fight scenes - mostly played out to a lazy soundtrack of dance bangers - this punchy dialogue adds heft to the quieter moments.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jun 21, 2021

Great choreography and fight scenes make up for any of the flaws in the story.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Jun 10, 2021

The Old Guard ends with a post-credits scene setting up another entry. For the first time in a good while, that feels like a promise rather than a threat.

Full Review | Jun 5, 2021

movie reviews the old guard

A clever-enough twist on the superhero genre to add a little hefty freshness to the genre.

Full Review | Mar 30, 2021

Review: ‘The Old Guard,’ starring Charlize Theron, breathes fresh life into superhero cinema

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Buried deep in “The Old Guard,” Gina Prince-Bythewood’s swift, somber action-thriller, is an image to file under my worst nightmares and probably yours too: A captive named Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo) is locked inside a giant suit of armor, weighed down with chains and thrown into the ocean. It would be an unspeakably awful fate for anyone, but it’s even more so for Quynh, whose body miraculously self-regenerates after every scrape, every wound and, yes, every death. Trapped on the ocean floor for decades that become centuries, she drowns, revives, drowns again and revives again, her water-clogged screams a terrifying reminder that there are punishments infinitely worse than death.

That’s one of many hard truths that linger amid the whizzing bullets and slashing blades of “The Old Guard,” a pleasurably human-scaled movie about what it means to be superhuman. Does your heart sink at the last part of that description — or at the fact that this Netflix release was adapted from a series of graphic novels? I sympathize, but rest assured: While the comic-book-inspired superhero saga may be Hollywood’s most exhausted subgenre, mindless repetition is the last thing on Prince-Bythewood’s mind. Always good at infusing traditional material with emotional conviction and sly political purpose ( “Love & Basketball,” “Beyond the Lights” ), she here turns the very notion of overkill sneakily on its head.

The protagonist here isn’t Quynh but another powerful, deathless fighter named Andromache the Scythian, which must be fun to sign in autographs — or it would be if Andy, as she sensibly calls herself, weren’t so intent on staying incognito. Superbly played by Charlize Theron with the same regal ferocity she brought to “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Atomic Blonde,” Andy is essentially the world’s oldest person: We see her in brief flashbacks to distant centuries, rocking a jeweled headdress and a heavy Boudicca vibe. These days, though, she favors a short black bob of hair and a wardrobe to match, the better to slip undetected through the shadows of history.

Andy leads a small, tough and very handsome team of fellow immortals who have intervened with quietly deadly force in some of humanity’s most momentous skirmishes. It took them a long time to find each other. Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts) served alongside Napoleon back in 1812. Nicky (Luca Marinelli) and Joe (Marwan Kenzari) once fought each other in the Crusades but have since become lovers. They haven’t shaken off all their ancient habits — swords remain among their weapons of choice — but they are ruthlessly efficient fighting machines, ready to kill and die and kill and die ad nauseam.

Turnover is low but not unheard-of, and fresh recruits don’t come along too often. But psychic visions have alerted Andy and her colleagues to a promising candidate named Nile (KiKi Layne, “If Beale Street Could Talk” ), a tough young U.S. Marine stationed in Afghanistan. Not long after recovering from what should have been a fatal injury, Nile learns that the life she once knew is over and that she is now the newest member of Andy’s posse. She is cast, in other words, in a familiar enough movie role: the wary outsider through whose eyes we will discover the mysterious workings of an exclusive subculture.

Nile is a fast learner, as Layne’s sharp-eyed performance makes clear. And what she learns, mainly, is that immortality can be a real drag. It isn’t easy for a movie to suggest that this particular gift might be more curse than blessing, or that those who possess it might be uniquely valuable, and thus vulnerable, to their most powerful enemies. But “The Old Guard,” adapted by Greg Rucka from his and Leandro Fernández’s comic-book series, teases out these philosophical quandaries with wry wit, gallows humor and an often grisly sense of the absurd.

It also allows for some fascinating corporeal spectacle, as Prince-Bythewood lingers, with real tenderness and grim fascination, on the wondrous sight of burn scars gradually vanishing and bullet wounds healing themselves. But she and her grunting, grimacing actors also direct our attention to the characters’ more lasting psychological scars. You feel the accumulated trauma of their every wound, every death, every resurrection. You also feel the weight of their solitude: To avoid capture, Andy and her friends must spend most of their long lives in isolation, joining forces only once every few years to do battle with the forces of evil.

Their latest mission places them in contact with a past associate (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who may not have their best interests at heart. An insufferably smug pharmaceuticals CEO (Harry Melling) definitely doesn’t; he wants to harness their powers and invent a kind of invincibility-conferring super-drug. Twists and betrayals pile up, along with abductions, rescues and vertiginous set pieces. But while Prince-Bythewood keeps the story moving and orchestrates some excitingly dynamic action (nimbly shot by Tami Reiker and Barry Ackroyd), it’s clear that her fascination with this story is less visceral than existential.

As a tale of immortality and its discontents, “The Old Guard” has obvious points of connection with the vast canon of vampire lore and literature. Andy and Nile, with their moving if initially combative teacher-student rapport, might remind you a little of Anne Rice’s Lestat and Louis. Nicky and Joe’s romantic ardor, undimmed by the passage of time, brings back warm memories of Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive.” (That movie ended in Morocco, which is where this one begins.) At the same time, the relaxed banter and non-nuclear family dynamics evoke any number of blockbuster reference points, from the “Fast and Furious” movies to the extended Marvel and DC Comics fraternities. Perhaps the most obvious genre antecedent here is “X-Men’s” Wolverine, another hero cursed with self-healing properties.

“Just because we keep living doesn’t mean we stop hurting,” Booker says, a line that the soft-eyed Schoenaerts nearly rescues from banality. “The Old Guard,” though a good deal more interesting than some of the movies to which it will be compared, doesn’t entirely sidestep their weaknesses, among them on-the-nose dialogue, fuzzy backstory and a conveniently selective regard for human life. For all its thoughtfulness about the peculiar metaphysics of life and death, this is still a movie in which the heroes wind up killing an awful lot of anonymous henchmen — and unlike them, those henchmen stay dead.

There’s nothing particularly objectionable about this dynamic, which mirrors that of countless action movies in which the baddies are expendable and the good guys are for all intents and purposes invincible. We accept it for the same reason we accept a lot of these movies, because the characters are vaguely coded as a force for good in the world. It’s easy enough to believe that about Andy and her friends — the actors’ charm goes a long way — but you can’t help longing for a deeper understanding of who they are, the causes they’ve fought for, the regimes they’ve aided and resisted. I mean that as both criticism and compliment. It’s the rare superhero movie in 2020 that can leave you wanting to see more, closing-credits kicker and all.

‘The Old Guard’

Rated: R, for sequences of graphic violence, and language Running time: 2 hours, 4 minutes Playing: Available July 10 on Netflix


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Charlize Theron is better than the standard action in Netflix's The Old Guard: Review

movie reviews the old guard

Some actors excel at playing ordinary; Charlize Theron has never really been one of them. Even in rare (and excellent) outliers like Tully or Young Adult , there's always the sense that she’s biding her time, waiting for the moment her character can break free from some sad basement suburbia and get back to the business of slaying or saving the day.

In other words, squaring up for exactly the kind of role she takes on in The Old Guard , a movie that finds Theron once again playing a life form vastly superior to humans. As Andromach the Scythian — you can call her Andy — she’s the leader of a band of immortal warriors that includes Matthias Schoenaerts and If Beale Street Could Talk ’s KiKi Layne.

And she’s great at it, unsurprisingly, even if her lonely enforcer is rarely as fierce as Mad Max: Fury Road ’s Furiosa nor as fun as Atomic Blonde ’s platinum assassin (though her hair, chopped into a glossy chocolate pageboy, does bring back memories of Aeon Flux's iconic bob .)

Maybe that’s because poor Andy has spent a thousand-plus years fighting for justice and freedom, and now her worst foe is a peevish pharma bro ( Harry Potter ’s Harry Melling ) intent on forcibly extracting the warriors' deathless DNA for his own nefarious ends. Or maybe it’s that she, and we, have seen so much of this before.

Some fans literally have, at least on the page: Greg Rucka’s script is based on his own cult graphic-novel series of the same name, and he handles the basic mythology breezily enough in a few brief expository flashbacks that show how the crew came to be over millennia (a Crusades battle here, a little Napoleonic warfare there).

Layne's Nile is the new kid, a nervy young Marine who wakes up in an Afghan field hospital to find a fatal injury mysteriously healed; one moment it's a gaping flesh wound, the next it's disappearing like a time-lapsed kitten scratch. That makes her a convenient proxy for the audience, though the story doesn’t leave a lot of room to mourn the life she’s forced to leave behind.

Or to bring much nuance to the much-heralded queer romance between Guards Joe and Nicky (Marwan Kanzari and Luca Marinelli); mostly it just marks the spot — a happy flag planted for LGBTQ representation — and moves on. (Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the government agent in hot pursuit, also lingers at the edges, underused).

Which seems like even more of a shame considering the kind of intimate storytelling director Gina Prince-Bythewood hails from; her sensitive handling of romantic dramas like Beyond the Lights and Love & Basketball would seem to serve those areas of the film far better than it does its bloody but mostly quotidian fight scenes.

That leaves a movie that, beneath its strong female presence and few contemporary bits of flair, has a sort of inevitable bog-standard action feel, just entertaining enough in its live-die-repeat machinations to pass the engagement test.

But as the plot gallops toward its climactic showdown, it's hard not to wish for more of nearly everything but bullets: more banter, more backstory, more scale and visual wit. And more, too, of the fellow warrior (Van Veronica Ngo) who may have been Andy's only equal before cruel fate (or just a mean screenplay) stole her away.

If The Old Guard doesn't bring many new tricks, it does have what seems like a pretty sweet deal with Netflix; the final scene slyly opens the door to a sequel, and an opportunity mere mortals are rarely granted in the real world: the chance to rip it all up and start again. B-

The Old Guard begins streaming on Netflix July 10.

Related content:

  • Charlize Theron leads a band of immortal warriors in new The Old Guard trailer
  • The Old Guard : Inside Charlize Theron's transformation into an ax-wielding, millennia-old warrior
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Charlize Theron in ‘The Old Guard’ on Netflix: Film Review

In a watchable franchise wannabe, Charlize Theron leads a team of immortals who are also B-movie renegades.

By Owen Gleiberman

Owen Gleiberman

Chief Film Critic

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There’s a thing you can always count on in blockbuster movie culture: If a popcorn genre hangs around long enough, after a while it’s going to merge with another popcorn genre it seemingly has nothing to do with. That’s what happened when “Kingsman: Secret Service” (2014) fused the setting and attitude of a James Bond thriller with the fanciful bang-bang-ballet-in-the-air action of a superhero movie.

It happens again in “ The Old Guard .” Adapted from the 2017 graphic novel by Greg Rucka (who wrote the screenplay), the movie is about a team of crime-fighting immortals whose flesh can repair itself from bullet wounds and knife stabs like something out of an “X-Men” film. But they’re also a down-and-dirty crew of leather-jacketed renegades who find a way to do maximum damage with machine guns and windpipe-smashing moves like something out of a Jason Statham payback special. You could call them The I-Team (I for “immortal”). You could also call the film “X-Men: The Expendables Edition.”

The leader of this posse of ageless commandos is Andromache of Scythia, known as Andy ( Charlize Theron ), who we meet in Morocco, where she’s wearing Ray-Bans and a black T-shirt and a sharply edged dark-brown version of a late-’70s David Bowie coif. She looks like a refugee from a motorcycle commercial, which makes you think the film is going to be some convoluted exercise in numbingly abstract action iconography. But “The Old Guard,” if anything, goes in the opposite direction; it’s like an immortal-mercenary hangout movie. Chunks of the picture are logy and formulaic (it dawdles on for two hours), but the director, Gina Prince-Bythewood (making a major lane change after “Love & Basketball” and “The Secret Life of Bees”), stages the fight scenes with ripe executionary finesse, and she teases out a certain soulful quality in her cast.

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According to the film’s theology of invincibility, each team member was killed at a certain moment in history, only to wake up and learn that from that point on they would be immortal. Andy is the oldest — she can’t even remember how long she’s been at this — and Theron, as cuttingly fierce as you want her to be (especially when she’s wielding a circular medieval Asian slicing weapon), acts like someone who’s bone-tired after a millennia or two of fighting evil; the dream of immortality has become her cross to bear. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Booker, who was killed fighting for Napoleon, as a melancholy loner spinning through history. And Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli are Joe and Nicky, a swarthy duo who died while dueling in the Crusades and have been lovers through the centuries. That’s part of the film’s rousingly inclusive approach to the action genre.

The other part is the casting of KiKi Layne as Nile, a Marine who gets her throat slashed by a Taliban leader during the war in Afghanistan. One day later, she’s all better, marking her as the first new member of the I-Team since 1812. Layne’s performance is the most resonant in the film. She plays Nile as a surly, desperate, human-sized outsider who’s distinctly unenthused about joining her new warrior colleagues in a life that never ends. She’s so not with the program, and that gives the moment she agrees to get with it a charge of actual drama.

“The Old Guard” is at once a conventional action thriller; an origin story that’s trying, in its utilitarian Netflix way, to launch a badass franchise; and an “elegiac” late episode of that same franchise. It’s a genre movie that, if anything, takes its characters a lot more seriously than the audience does. Floating through the years with hidden identities, Andy and her team are presented to us as stealth saviors who really, really care. Andy, explaining the game of immortality to Nile, says things like, “It’s not what time steals. It’s what it leaves behind.” (A line like that can leave the pulse of a movie behind.)

The way “The Old Guard” works, immortality lasts until it doesn’t. The film has a passing-the-baton-to-a-representative-of-the-new-world plot that echoes “Terminator: Dark Fate” and “Logan.” The villain, Merrick, runs a pharmaceutical corporation and is played by Harry Melling (from the “Harry Potter” films) as if he were the evil grandson of Malcolm McLaren. His plan is to kidnap our heroes and learn the secrets of immortality by mining their flesh for its genetic secrets. Merrick’s middleman, Copley, is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor , an actor who never fails to surprise. Here, he goes from villain to soul-haunted collaborator to the film’s equivalent of a certain character with an eyepatch in a way that’s entirely convincing, even as he barely moves a facial muscle. Will “The Old Guard” be successful enough to spawn a sequel? If it is, the challenge going forward will be to make the prospect of immortality seem like something more than a rerun.

Reviewed online, July 2, 2020. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 125 MIN.

  • Production: A Netflix release of a Skydance, Denver + Delilah Productions production. Producers: AJ Dix, David Ellison, Marc Evans, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Beth Kono, Charlize Theron. Executive producers: Stan Wlodkowski, Greg Rucka.
  • Crew: Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood. Screenplay: Greg Rucka. Camera: Barry Ackroyd, Tami Reiker. Editor: Terilyn A. Shropshire. Music: Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran.
  • With: Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling.

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movie reviews the old guard

The Old Guard

movie reviews the old guard

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movie reviews the old guard

Charlize Theron (Andy) KiKi Layne (Nile) Matthias Schoenaerts (Booker) Marwan Kenzari (Joe) Luca Marinelli (Nicky) Chiwetel Ejiofor (Copley) Harry Melling (Merrick) Veronica Ngo (Quynh) Natacha Karam (Dizzy) Mette Narrative (Jordan)

Gina Prince-Bythewood

A covert team of immortal mercenaries is suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.


movie reviews the old guard

More about The Old Guard

Uma Thurman and Henry Golding board Netflix's <i>The Old Guard 2</i>

Uma Thurman and Henry Golding board Netflix's The Old Guard 2

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Charlize Theron says the <i>Old Guard</i> sequel will begin filming next year

Charlize Theron says the Old Guard sequel will begin filming next year

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'The Old Guard' Is A Smart Blend Of Action And Emotion

Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes

movie reviews the old guard

KiKi Layne, Luca Marinelli, Charlie Theron, and Marwan Kenzari are part of The Old Guard in Netflix's film of the same name. Netflix hide caption

KiKi Layne, Luca Marinelli, Charlie Theron, and Marwan Kenzari are part of The Old Guard in Netflix's film of the same name.

There's a moment in the wonderful 2000 romance Love And Basketball when Monica and Quincy, college sweethearts who are both athletes, sit on a dorm-room bed together, recovering from their bruises. Their bodies are tangled and facing in opposite directions, with her hand holding ice on his belly and his holding ice on her ankle. The camera looks at the little drops of water on his skin and on hers, and we hear the crinkle of her bag of ice as she gently wiggles it back and forth. It's an extraordinary moment of intimacy, both because of the way it communicates the foundations of the relationship — its nurture and trust — and because of the way it displays the inherent vulnerability of bodies and what a critical part of humanity they represent.

Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed that scene, and in the last 20 years she's directed television like Shots Fired and other films like Beyond The Lights . But this was the scene I kept coming back to while watching the very good Netflix action thriller The Old Guard , starring Charlize Theron, which Prince-Bythewood directed from a script by Greg Rucka, adapting the comics he created with artist Leandro Fernandez.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood: It's Time To 'Obliterate The Term Black Film'

Code Switch

Director gina prince-bythewood: it's time to 'obliterate the term black film'.

It might not be obvious, the connection between young lovers sprawled on a bed and a team of fighters against injustice. And particularly in this case, injured athletes aren't an obvious analogue because — and this is where I acknowledge that I am going to spoil the premise of the comics and the film — these are people who have lived many lifetimes, who cannot die. Or, rather, they die and they come back. Not just once, but over and over. For centuries; for longer.

Here's a quandary: How do you make a compelling movie — one with a good measure of fairly graphic violence, by the way — about a group of heroes who can't be killed? Don't they always have the upper hand? Won't they always win? There are clever ways that the story itself gets around this problem, but it's also absolutely critical that it's in the hands of a director who understands, and can convey on film, that link between physical vulnerability and humanity. Because one of the things this story is about is that even if you do not die, the pain of cycling through injury after injury, recovery after recovery, reconstitution after reconstitution of your being, is a hard way to exist.

It's a story that's partly about the attrition of your spirit that can come from being, very literally, a "survivor." And particularly because new recruit Nile (KiKi Layne, whom you know from If Beale Street Could Talk ) is a black woman and two of her teammates are men who fell in love after being on opposite sides of The Crusades (which is a witty idea, let's be honest), there is additional subtext here about the churn of violence and the costs of enduring it. Moreover, in a world seized with emergencies that activists are scrambling to address, it is frustrating enough when you feel like years have passed and all the attempts you have made to improve the world have come to nothing. What would it be like to feel that for centuries? For longer? Would you really want the long view? How much perspective could you stand to have about humanity?

More immediately, the plot is this: Andy (Theron) has been doing this the longest. She wants out of the hero business, really, but she can't escape. She's pulled into a job with teammates Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). The job, conveyed to them by a man named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is to rescue a group of kidnapped girls in South Sudan. How can they say no? When it turns out there's more to the job than meets the eye, she's confronted by the fact that there are people out there who know about her and her team and wish them no good.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Nile is a young soldier consumed with the wars of the present, and shortly after she discovers that something is very unusual about her response to injury, she winds up in the company of the Old Guard. (They don't go around calling themselves that, by the way; it would be very corny. And they don't do it.)

Seeking Empathy, 'Shots Fired' Creators Flip The Script On Police Shootings

Seeking Empathy, 'Shots Fired' Creators Flip The Script On Police Shootings

This is the first film I've seen in quarantine that felt to me like a proper big summer movie — and yet it transcends so much of what's sometimes been disappointing about that category. Yes, it's a comic book movie. Yes, it's an action movie. Yes, it's about a team of good-doers. And it's exciting and satisfying and tense and all those things. But everything from its queer couple to its leading women to its director to its thoughtfulness to its point of view about violence makes it such a welcome addition. So often, films accept the idea that slaughter — when a character believes it's righteous — comes easily and seems normal once the action realm has been entered. Here, no: Here, Nile is horrified by a sequence that would be just another set piece in so many movies. She's not excited the way Spider-Man is excited about joining the Avengers. She's coming to terms with a future she never asked for, and with the implications it has for the life she had before all this started.

There were moments in The Old Guard when I literally just muttered, "Gina Prince-Bythewood, man." Seriously. Because I have admired the way she shoots bodies in love scenes for ages; the way she makes skin seem warm and eyes seem lit from the inside. When I saw Beyond The Lights , I wrote that she had "an uncommonly fine touch when shooting not just sex but other scenes of physical contact and closeness, which give the film a sense of intimacy and gravity." As it turns out, that skill translates brilliantly to action, and the logic that someone who can shoot sex well can shoot action well should probably be followed more often. There's a moment when Nile is isolated, breathing deeply and listening to Frank Ocean in her earbuds, that reminded me keenly of Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond The Lights , not just because they're both black women being filmed and seen in a tactile and radiant way black women often aren't in popular American film, but because the same director brings the same sense of vulnerable but durable physicality to both portrayals.

Not to be lost in this is how strong some of these performances are. This is a terrific deployment of the talents of Charlize Theron, sleek and knowing and fully in charge, swinging an axe and shooting a gun in a way that will satisfy anybody who secretly enjoys, just a little, those, "oooooh, yuck " moments in films like John Wick . (This is a pretty bloody movie. Please know that going in.) Layne is in a very different gear from the serene presence she was in Beale Street , but she's very good in this role that balances what we might call bad-assery with conscience and internal conflicts. Theron and Layne are also both funny together in the welcome moments of push and pull that are common to every story of the grizzled old veteran and the new recruit.

If you've got a big TV (or even a little one), there's plenty to watch; you know that. I know that. But if you miss the blockbuster and the star vehicle and the big action sequence, and if you want something that can be all those things while still having humanity and thought and a point of view, this is your film. And it comes from one of our great directors, who's been showing us for ages the cycle of injury and recovery, and who knows it will probably always be with us.

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movie reviews the old guard

  • DVD & Streaming

The Old Guard

  • Action/Adventure , Drama , Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Content Caution

movie reviews the old guard

In Theaters

  • Charlize Theron as Andy; KiKi Layne as Nile; Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker; Marwan Kenzari as Joe; Luca Marinelli as Nicky; Chiwetel Ejiofor as Copley; Harry Melling as Merrick

Home Release Date

  • July 10, 2020
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood


Movie review.

They’re the best at what they do, Andy’s little band. And they’ll do whatever is asked of them—if the cause, and the price, is right. They slide into a country like a blade of smoke. They rescue who they can, kill who they must, and poof , they’re gone.

They see themselves as the good guys. “We fight for what we think is right,” says Nicky, one of the group’s members. But lately, team leader Andy wonders whether they’re doing any good at all. For all their efforts, the world’s getting worse, not better. And Andy’s had enough.

“The world can burn, for all I care,” she says.

But if the world did burn, these four teammates— spoiler alert —might be the only people left standing.

Yes, Andy’s team is indeed the best at what they do. They’re quick, strong and lethal. Also, immortal. That helps in their line of work.

Oh, they’ll die eventually . Every living thing does, they’ll point out. But until their time comes, their bodies spit out bullets, patch up stab wounds and stitch together broken bones quicker than Starbucks brews your latte. Any number of people would kill to get their hands on their secret … if anyone knew about it.

But now, it seems as though someone does know. After Andy’s team is brutally ambushed in the South Sudan—with the whole attack recorded on video—Andy knows their secret is out. No longer are they the hunters: Now someone’s hunting them .

And that’s not all. Just as Andy and her team realize (through a subconscious dream connection) that they’re in someone’s crosshairs, they learn there’s another immortal out there—one who just discovered it herself. In her dreams, Andy sees the woman clearly: a soldier serving in Afghanistan.

She’s the first immortal to appear in, what, 200 years?

“Not another one,” Andy huffs. “Not now.”

But she has no choice but to deal with it. While Andy directs the rest of her team to find their pursuers, she goes after the new immortal herself. The woman’s going to want answers, after all. She’s confused, maybe scared. And given how people often react to folks who rise from the dead ( Zombie! Vampire! ), she might be in a little danger herself. (As much as an immortal person can be, at least.)

Plus, given the unknown threat that faces her team, another trigger finger couldn’t hurt.

Positive Elements

You get jaded after a few hundred years of battling baddies. Andy and her team may fight for what they believe is right, but several centuries of seeing humankind’s worst sides can make even the best of them question their priorities.

But Nile—the new girl—is free from centuries of world-weary cynicism. She’s still shaken by the fact that she killed a man—even though the same man “killed” her. She protects and sacrifices for her fellow teammates. She longs to talk with her family again, and she praises how her mother raised her.

“She fought for us,” Nile tells Andy of her mother. “Never backed down. Never let us back down, either.”

Nile’s presence seems to remind Andy of her own essential humanity. Though Andy can’t even remember what her family looked like after all this time (and she was born in an age long before someone could just snap a picture), she understands the longing that Nile has for her family. And it leads Andy to a rather unexpected, and sacrificial, decision.

That said, all of the team members seem willing to sacrifice for each other. And even when we do see someone commit a highly ungenerous act, he does so because of a painful past experience.

We should also note that even the bad guys don’t necessarily have completely bad motives. Andy’s team is being pursued by a pharmaceutical company hoping to save and elongate the lives of millions. Sure, Merrick, the company’s CEO, seems more motivated by profits than philanthropy. But others—propelled by the suffering they’ve seen in their own families—sincerely (if misguidedly) believe that capturing and experimenting on Andy and her team can somehow still serve the greater good. In the end, though, the film repudiates that idea, reminding us that good intents can’t justify evil actions.

[Spoiler Warning] While Andy questions whether her team is doing good or not, someone tracking their history knows they are—and just how much. Andy will save a child, for instance, and that child grows up to invent an important vaccine. A rescued family eventually spawns someone who saved hundreds from the Khmer Rouge. “She saves a life, and two or three generations later, we reap the benefits,” he says. It’s almost as if they’re on a divine mission, saving certain people to keep humanity’s epic story on track. And speaking of which …

Spiritual Elements

… Nile is a Christian. After she comes back to life, we see her sitting on a cot, holding the cross hanging around her neck thoughtfully. And when she and Andy take a rickety plane back to the rest of Andy’s team, Nile bows her head.

“Are you praying?” Andy says with a laugh. “God doesn’t exist.”

“ My God does,” Nile insists.

Andy’s not moved. She dismisses the whole idea of a divine hand and mocks Nile for her faith. She says that once upon a time, she was worshipped as a god, and she’s seen enough horrific stuff to dismiss the idea of a protective Creator. Nothing means anything, Andy insists, though she admits that their own immortality is hard to explain.

“You should just keep following that illogic,” Andy says. “You’re already on board with the supernatural.”

Andy did have a bad experience with Christian believers back in the day. As she and an immortal friend tried to save some people accused of witchcraft sometime during the Middle Ages, they were naturally accused of being witches themselves. The fact that they couldn’t be killed “proved” their pact with the devil. As the two wait to be burned at the stake, a bunch of soldiers with a priest barge in and separate the two.

“For creatures such as you, there is no salvation,” the priest says, holding a huge wooden cross, taking one of the immortals out of the cell.

Andy’s team hides out in an old, deserted church (and does lots of killing there). One teammate, Nicky, prays before battle and tells passing villagers, “Peace be with you.” He insists that their lives, and their collective partnership, were “meant” to happen. Turns out, he and fellow team member Joe both fought in the Crusades—though on opposite sides.

“The love of my life was of the people I’d been taught to hate,” Nicky says. Which leads us to our next section.

Sexual Content

Nicky and Joe are lovers, and have been monogamously so for hundreds of years. “This man is more than you could ever know” when someone asks Joe if Nicky is his “boyfriend.” “His kiss still thrills me even after millennia.” Nicky calls his beau an “incurable romantic,” and the two men share a lingering kiss. We also see the couple waking up (fully clothed) in bed together.

This gay relationship is the only confirmed romance we see in the film—though when Nile spies a bare-breasted statue crafted by the famous artist Rodin, Andy admits that she knew the guy. “Probably biblically,” quips Booker, the fourth member of the team. We see a bit of cleavage, and some men are sometimes seen shirtless.

Andy’s team is sent to rescue a handful of kidnapped girls. “The youngest is 8. The oldest, 13,” someone tells Andy. Though it’s never expressed explicitly, we assume these girls will soon be separated and sold as part of a human trafficking ring.

Violent Content

After Andy kills a score of would-be attackers (to Nile’s appalled amazement), Booker tells her, “That woman has forgotten more ways to kill than whole armies will ever know.”

Perhaps the movie serves as a refresher course for Andy, because things then turn remarkably bloody.

Dozens upon dozens upon dozens of non-immortal humans are slaughtered—often, but not always, quickly. Most are dispatched via a bullet to the head (or a few to the chest), and a few fatalities are accompanied by briefs splashes of blood. Others have their throats cut. One man has the arteries in his legs swiftly and silently severed.

But some don’t die so easily. After a drawn-out fight, a man lands on his head and grotesquely snaps his neck. Andy sends an axe into another man’s neck, the weapon sticking partly out. A man falls to his death. In a flashback, we see a fellow with a horrific injury to his midsection slowly bleed out (blood burbling out of his mouth, as well).

But as bad as those injuries might be, they look fairly tame to those suffered by our damage-resistant immortals.

One takes a grenade explosion to his midsection; flesh and blood mix with what looks like hints of intestine, and the rest of his body looks bloodily mangled, too. (Even that, though, isn’t enough to keep him unconscious for more than a minute or so.) Another suffers a gunshot through the mouth: While we don’t see the shot itself, we do see the blood and gore as he revives.

Bone breaks are particularly grotesque, with slivers often sticking straight out of the skin (or, in one case, turning a set of fingers into practically a pipe-cleaner sculpture made by a preschooler) before the breaks heal without any long-standing damage.

Elsewhere, a throat is grotesquely slit. A brain is filled with a bullet. Characters are stabbed repeatedly and sometimes appear dead, their faces covered in blood and bodies pocked with wounds. One is injected with a massive, painful needle.

Our immortal protagonists take in more lead than a pencil factory. In flashback, we learn that one met a terrible “end.” The immortal was locked in an iron coffin and dumped into the ocean, destined to drown and revive and drown again until the end of time. (“It’s the reason we dread capture,” Nicky tells Nile. “[We don’t want to] spend eternity in a cage.”)

The recovery can be almost as ooky, with bodies squeezing bullets out of the wounds. And while Andy’s team may be immortal, every injury still causes pain. Nile finds this out herself when she sticks her hand in a burning fire, and she pulls it out covered, temporarily, by blisters.

People are punched and kicked, too. We see someone suffer from a cruel illness, and we hear about others in the same boat. Newspapers and press clippings tell of some old bloody incidents, while televised news reports describe some new ones. A plane nearly crashes. Someone jumps off a moving train. Merrick says that his company just released a drug that will save hundreds of thousands of lives … though the process killed a quarter of a million mice. When he views footage of the immortals at work, he calls the footage a “$2 million snuff film.”

Crude or Profane Language

Seven f-words and about 20 s-words. We also hear “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “h—,” “sucks” and “p-ssed.” God’s name is misused twice (once with “d–n”), and Jesus’ name is abused three times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Andy guzzles quite a bit of vodka on a plane. Nile speculates that Andy drugged her to make her think that she’d died. A man staggers to his apartment, obviously drunk, and lets a whisky bottle fall from his hand. (It breaks on the floor.) People drink wine with dinner.

Merrick hopes to use the immortals’ DNA to craft life-saving, or life-extending drugs, and he brags how successful his scientists have been in creating lifechanging drugs in the past.

Other Negative Elements

Nile vomits. Andy threatens a would-be partner.

The Old Guard may feel fresh and new. But in some ways, it’s the same old story.

Anchored by a strong performance by Charlize Theron, Netflix’s latest actioner (based on a comic book of the same name) is one of the more intense, intriguing, throwaway action movies you’ll see during this COVID-interrupted movie season. It’s also among the bloodiest.

The violence here is frenetic, the gore unremitting. A same-sex relationship between two of our heroes could cause another swath of would-be viewers to push pause. And while the film offers some odd-but-resonant nods to God and transcendent purpose here, it’s not enough to redeem The Old Guard’ s failings.

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Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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The Old Guard Review

The Old Guard

10 Jul 2020

The Old Guard

Who wants to live forever? So asked Freddie Mercury on the soundtrack to 1986’s Highlander , a film to which The Old Guard owes no small debt. That existential quandary lies at the heart of this Netflix original thriller, adapted by Greg Rucka from his and Leandro Fernández’s 2017 comic-book series. Charlize Theron ’s Andromache of Scythia (Andy to her friends) is a millennia-old warrior weighed down with undying ennui. Having spent most of recorded history up to her elbows in gore, she has witnessed the same old squabbles, the same inhumanity, and wonders if there’s any point to it all. But, after taking a year off (the immortal equivalent of a bank holiday) to contemplate, she and her ageless teammates ( Matthias Schoenaerts , Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli) reluctantly return to their calling as guns for hire. This time, though, the perennial quartet’s refusal to expire is captured on film, exposing their secret and leading to a showdown with the deadliest foe of all: an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company.

The Old Guard

With regular swordplay (Andy herself favours a battle-axe), flashbacks in period garb, and a great deal of angsty hand-wringing over the downsides of eternal life (“It’s not what time steals, it’s what it leaves behind; things you can’t forget”), the film doffs a tartan cap at Connor MacLeod with little apology. But where Russell Mulcahy’s film (for all its hamminess) had a sweeping, epic scope that spanned history, The Old Guard is far more constrained. With a narrative anchored firmly in the present, hints at the depth of the immortals’ past are limited to coy allusions about Andy’s age, fragmented glimpses of her raising hell in the Middle Ages, and a rather clumsy scrapbook, complete with awkward Photoshopping alongside Martin Luther King. Beyond these superficial nods, there’s little real sense of who Andy or her companions really are; their experiences brushed past but never truly explored. Schoenaerts’ Booker opens up about how failing to age caused his children to spurn him, and there’s talk of another immortal who one day simply stopped healing and died, which made them all a bit sad. But these nods to emotional scar tissue aren't given sufficient room to breathe — the film too keen to skip over any meaty exploration of character to keep the plot moving. Kenzari and Marinelli’s characters — eternal lovers who met fighting on opposite sides of the Crusades — do have more texture to them, but even this is concentrated in a single, albeit touching, declaration of love in the back of a panel van.

Regular flurries of bullets and blades serve as the film’s main strength.

Despite the story limitations, Theron is on fine form as the Scythian Methuselah, borrowing Furiosa’s steely glower and channelling her aptitude for complex choreography previously showcased in Atomic Blonde . Director Gina Prince-Bythewood ( Love & Basketball ), who came close to adapting Sony’s since-abandoned Black Cat and Silver Sable movie Silver & Black , keeps the action fast and frantic. Regular flurries of bullets and blades serve as the film’s main strength, and while unlikely to give David Leitch any sleepless nights, The Old Guard gets points for leaning into the idea that the immortals can die, they just do so over and over again — with all the excruciating sensation that goes with it.

Most of the film’s humanity is rooted in KiKi Layne’s Nile, a young US Marine serving in the Middle East and the first new immortal in centuries. Wide-eyed and incredulous at her newfound resilience — she shrugs off an insurgent’s blade to the throat without so much as a scar — Nile makes a handy access point for the viewer, teasing out backstory and lending proceedings some heart along the way. Chiwetel Ejiofor is somewhat wasted in a his role as a shady ex-CIA wonk, while the film’s primary antagonist — a Big Pharma CEO played by Harry ‘Dudley Dursley’ Melling — is so overplayed as to veer into parody. This lack of character depth highlights the somewhat throwaway plot, which never quite manages to kick in to high gear. It’s particularly unfortunate that the film’s most promising subplot, involving imprisoned immortal Veronica Ngo, is almost entirely abandoned, leaving a potentially far more interesting tale untold.

Solid action beats and a story that skips from Sudan to Afghanistan, Paris and, finally, Guildford, ensure there's enjoyment to be had but The Old Guard remains a slightly disappointing revenge/conspiracy yarn, that never quite lives up to its excellent conceit. An intriguing coda does set the stage for a far more lively sequel, but short of a ratings landslide for this instalment, it's likely there can be only one.

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Movies | 10 06 2020

Charlize Theron prepares to draw her axe in The Old guard

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The Old Guard passes the ax to a slick new set of action heroes

The Netflix movie makes an action director out of Gina Prince-Bythewood

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As franchises grow older, the entertainment industry is seeing an increasing number of stories about legacy characters passing the baton to a new generation. Some established series, like the Ghostbusters movies (now headed into yet another new reboot/sequel ) or the ever-sprawling Marvel Universe, need younger actors or fresh storylines so the property doesn’t go stale. And sometimes new creators just want the freedom to take familiar stories in new directions. When that happens, some characters bow out gracefully before their time’s up. Others are unceremoniously written out of the narrative. But not all older characters want to move on.

Beyond the Lights writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood sets up her newest film (and her first potential action franchise) The Old Guard at the start of a baton-pass between veteran warrior Andy (Charlize Theron) and young Marine Nile (KiKi Layne). The characters and the tight-knit group they travel with, including Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), are immortal souls who use their healing superpowers for the greater good, rescuing mere mortals from many varieties of doom. It’s a thankless job: mortals used to want to burn people with powers at the stake. The modern equivalent is dissecting them to find a potential cure for all human ails. Worse, at some point, even the immortals can lose their abilities. Turns out they’re still human after all.

Based on the graphic-novel series by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, the screen adaptation of The Old Guard feels like a slick, trimmed-down version of a more expansive mythology. Most of the characters have centuries worth of trauma and violence behind them. Andy, short for Andromache, begins to feel her centuries of good deeds have been pointless, as the world is slipping deeper and deeper into chaos. She doesn’t shift her view until she meets Nile, who only recently discovered her X-Men-like ability to heal from mortal wounds. Meanwhile, Nile has to cope with the requirements of her new life, including a sudden, unceremonious separation from her family.

Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, and their team stand with their backs to a conspiracy string-board in The Old Guard.

Even if the premise sounds familiar, The Old Guard never feels stale. Prince-Bythewood and Rucka inject much-needed energy to the action genre with the movie’s diverse cast, its voluminous story, and its clear-cut fight scenes. In some respects, The Old Guard feels like a return to action thrillers, but there are so few with women in charge of a group, we’ve only seen it in movies like Charlie’s Angels or another Theron vehicle, Mad Max: Fury Road .

In these movies, it’s usually women leading other women, or working altogether on an equal basis. However, the heroes in The Old Guard include characters who are women, men, Black, white, queer, straight, Muslim and Christian. Their identities aren’t just token details, they play a part in the way their characters react, like Nile’s reluctance to kill bad guys, or Nicky and Joe’s emotional kiss in defiance of captors. But Andy is the group’s clear-cut leader, and she and eventually Nile call the shots. The film celebrates women taking charge, women mentoring other women, and women giving other women the chance to take the lead. Plus, as one of the few action movies out this summer while many U.S. theaters remain closed, it’s a 2020 survivor in a category of its own.

One of the movie’s strengths lies in how these characters support or clash with each other. Nothing phases Andy, who visibly grows more cynical with every minute onscreen. Theron excels at playing the part of a weary warrior who’s still out on the battlefield after several wars have come and gone. As Nile, Layne plays her part as an awkward outsider with too many questions, dealing with her own natural distrust. Nile’s arrival doesn’t disrupt Andy’s confidence, but their relationship does bring out some personality traits Andy has lost touch with.

Booker is grief-stricken over the mortal loved ones he’s lost, and he and another lost immortal, Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo), become cautionary tales about the downside to living for decades on end. Fortunately, Joe and Nicky offer some respite as the group’s token couple, providing some much-needed warmth and affection to Theron and Schoenaerts’ steely performances. After an ambush, the crew ends up on the run from the clutches of the well-intentioned but misguided Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and obsessively power-hungry pharma-bro Merrick (the Harry Potter movies’ Harry Melling). While both are shortchanged as antagonists, they work enough as adversaries worth battling.

Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne punch the crap out of each other in a plane in The Old Guard.

While a few other portions of Rucka’s script feel too trimmed-back, the story continuously moves forward in a way that’s designed to keep audiences from experiencing any narrative void. Prince-Bythewood and cinematographers Barry Ackroyd and Tami Reiker carefully moderate their action sequences so the shots are full of movement, yet don’t lose sight of who’s fighting who. They follow kicks and punches closely toward their painful destinations on villains’ faces or necks. Bullets don’t fly as freely as they do in series like the John Wick movies, but The Old Guard still amasses a high body count and its fair share of bloody injuries. These action heroes can take the bullets others can’t and bounce back like video-game characters with many lives — until those run out.

Any scenes or music cues that feel false or overplayed are rare enough that they don’t get in the way of The Old Guard ’s straightforward action story. Since Prince-Bythewood’s 2000 debut Love and Basketball , she’s shown that she knows how to set up action scenes without sacrificing the story, or the character details that makes audiences care who wins a fight. While she’s excelled at personal dramas like The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights , she’s only now getting the runway to show off her skills in a genre full of explosions, bullets, knives, axes, and a jaw-dropping dive off the side of a building.

It’s exciting to watch her keep up the movie’s heart-pounding pace, nimbly maneuver between exposition and fight scenes, and give her cast the chance to take the lead. With The Old Guard , Prince-Bythewood is taking a lead of her own, showing that this old genre still has much more life left in it, if it’ll let outsiders take charge.

The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix now.

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The Old Guard review: Netflix turns Charlize Theron into an immortal John Wick

Netflix has had plenty of success with its genre-spanning original television series, but its original films have been a mixed bag. The streaming video platform has produced some critical darlings (and even a few Oscar winners ), but has yet to produce the sort of mainstream, blockbuster film franchise that turns it into a serious contender in Hollywood.

Action comes easy

Casting a wide net, something old, something new, more to come.

The latest attempt at doing so is  The Old Guard , an action thriller starring Charlize Theron that casts the Academy Award winner (and  Mad Max: Fury Road standout) as an immortal mercenary who uses her particular set of skills to lead a crack team of her fellow deathless soldiers. When her team finds themselves hunted by a mysterious organization, they’re forced to go on the run while simultaneously tracking down a new immortal who has arrived in the world.

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Although  The Old Guard falls back on the familiar a bit too often, the world it builds and its charismatic cast keep things interesting and offer plenty of potential, even if it doesn’t end up being the franchise-spawning origin story it aspires to be.

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ( The Secret Life of Bees ,  Love & Basketball ) from a script penned by Greg Rucka,  The Old Guard is based on the comic book series of the same name created by Rucka and Leandro Fernández.

Much like  Extraction , Netflix’s recent action film that cast Marvel Studios veteran Chris Hemsworth in the lead role,  The Old Guard puts its high-profile star front and center and lets Theron remind us why she’s one of Hollywood’s most prominent female action heroes right now. Theron is a one-woman killing machine in  The Old Guard  and looks as comfortable dispatching wave after wave of heavily armed, nameless bad guys as any male lead out there.

Like some of the best action heroes on the screen right now, Theron finds just the right balance of gracefulness, brutality, and efficiency of motion in her fight sequences, but she’s not alone in delivering a good performance in  The Old Guard .

The film’s international cast is filled out by Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, and Luca Marinelli as the trio of immortal soldiers who have allied themselves with Theron’s character for several centuries, forming an unconventional family borne of watching everyone else they know grow old and die. KiKi Layne, who delivered a breakthrough performance in the drama  If Beale Street Could Talk , portrays an American soldier who must come to terms with her own newfound immortality and makes an impressive pivot to the action genre.

Rounding out the cast is Oscar-nominated  12 Years A Slave actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as a former CIA agent investigating Theron’s team and Harry Potter franchise actor Harry Melling as a billionaire industrialist who sees profit-making potential in the immortals.

All four of the actors cast alongside Theron as un-killable soldiers hold their own remarkably well through both the action sequences and the quieter moments, with Kenzari and Marinelli particularly memorable as warriors who fought on opposite sides of the Crusades, only to fall in love after dying on the battlefield. Layne is also a pleasant surprise as a capable action hero and handles the gunplay as well as the more dramatic elements as her character adjusts to life with her new, undying family.

Given his resume, Ejiofor feels a bit underserved by the story, while Melling is appropriately smarmy and morally bankrupt as the film’s primary villain. His character’s ultimate fate is satisfying on its own, but will likely be even more so for anyone unable to shake Melling’s association with Dudley Dursley , the spoiled brat he famously (or perhaps infamously) portrayed throughout the Harry Potter series.

Sadly, The Old Guard goes in a few too many predictable directions to hold any surprises.

Time and time again, the film layers one well-worn action trope after another on top of its otherwise intriguing supernatural premise, preventing it from standing out as much as it should, given its talented cast. There’s a sense of familiarity that runs through so much of The Old Guard that it never feels entirely fresh and new — something it needs to be if it aspires to be the first installment of a series.

The story does a nice job of world-building when it sets out to do so, however, and Rucka’s script makes the history of the film’s immortals feel like fertile ground for future stories — or at the very least, extended flashbacks. Each of the immortals introduced in the film feels like a fully fleshed-out character, and their individual journeys in the time before they met Theron’s character carry as much importance as their adventures with her.

That last quality is important because the film goes out of its way to lay the groundwork for a sequel.

On its own,  The Old Guard doesn’t generate the kind of excitement that would normally make a sequel a foregone conclusion, but the world it offers up is undeniably interesting and packed with potential.

To be fair, The Old Guard does a lot of things very, very well — particularly when it comes Theron and Layne’s performances and the future stories it teases. But the film ultimately falls short of doing anything that generates the sort of cheer-worthy, buzz-generating moments that typically convince a major studio to fast-track the next chapter of the saga.

Netflix isn’t the typical studio, though, and that could work in  The Old Guard ‘s favor. Prince-Bythewood, Rucka, and Theron (who also serves as a producer on the film) have crafted a compelling world of espionage, action, and secret immortals that could be well-served with another tale now that we’re past the introductory adventure.  The Old Guard didn’t quite do enough to absolutely ensure that happens, but it would still be nice to see what the future holds for the film’s colorful characters.

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Charlize Theron, The Old Guard premieres July 10 on Netflix.

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Every Star Wars fan has a favorite movie, and many Star Wars fans also hate at least one of the entries in one of their favorite franchises. That can make the exercise of choosing the perfect Star Wars movie to watch on May the 4th difficult. For all of the love this fan base has shown to the franchise over the years, it's also a fan base that has strong opinions about why one movie or another is worthy of your time.

This May 4, though, I'd recommend watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Almost undoubtedly the most controversial entry in the saga, one that makes some people furious and others jump for joy, The Last Jedi is worthy of your attention, whether you like what it's doing or not. Here are three reasons you should check it out: Luke gets to live the Jedi legend Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer (Official)

From Darth Vader to Emperor Palpatine to Jabba the Hutt, Star Wars has been given us several iconic villains. But for all its many well-known villains, there are still those who have been all but overlooked by general audiences. Such a lackluster reception may be due to limited appearances or questionable story choices regarding their character.

In this massive franchise, there are many characters who should get more recognition from audiences, and these seven prove themselves to be the unsung villains of the Star Wars universe. 7. Darth Bane

It's not hard to see why Lucasfilm gave the green light to the upcoming Mandalorian & Grogu movie. No new characters from the new Disney era are as widely beloved as they are. In a time when so many Star Wars films have been announced and subsequently abandoned, a movie based on The Mandalorian feels like a surefire hit.

And yet, everything else about this film remains a mystery. What's the story? When does it even take place? None of that is known. But I think we can agree that the following five things need to be addressed in the upcoming film. 1. The right epic feel and scope

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All you need to know about The Old Guard 2 on Netflix

The Old Guard 2 still doesn't have a release date and wasn't included in Netflix's 2024 slate announcement in February 2024 .

Don't panic yet though as Netflix did announce that further movies are to be announced for this year, so hopefully the action sequel is one of them. After all, it did finish filming way back in September 2022.

"We shot it approximately a year and a half ago, and I think they're hitting the last stage of post-production," star Matthias Schoenaerts said in February 2024.

"As far as I've understood, I think there's been a switch at Netflix high up. I think there's a different CEO, so that leads to a reconsidering of release, and how and when, and that's not up to me. But I know we're hitting the last stage of post-production, so it's gonna show up at some point."

Recently, Netflix scrapped Halle Berry's sci-fi movie The Mothership because of post-production delays, so fans are worried The Old Guard 2 might suffer the same fate. Let's not lose faith yet though since the first movie was a hit.

As we wait for any news, here's everything you need to know about The Old Guard 2.

The Old Guard 2 potential release date: When can we expect The Old Guard 2?

As mentioned above, The Old Guard 2 doesn't have a confirmed release date on Netflix as of April 2024.

The first movie proved a hit on Netflix when it was released in July 2020, so we thought The Old Guard 2 would be released in July 2023. However, that never came to pass.

What we do know is that the sequel was filmed from June to September 2022 in the likes of Italy and the UK, so barring any reshoots, it's almost ready to go. It was missing from Netflix's confirmed 2024 release slate, though.

Fortunately, it sounds like The Old Guard 2 will be worth the wait – and we might even be getting a third movie after the sequel arrives.

"There's an ending that kind of demands a number three, which makes me very happy," producer Marc Evans told Variety in May 2023, although he stopped short of confirming it was actually happening.

Behind the scenes, Victoria Mahoney took over as director from Gina Prince-Bythewood, who stayed on as a producer. In front of the camera, though, the main cast all came back for another action-packed adventure.

Greg Rucka – who wrote the comic book the movie was based on – returned to write the sequel. He always envisioned the story as a trilogy , which might be why Evans was so confident about a third movie.

The Old Guard 2 cast: Who's coming back for The Old Guard 2?

There was only one major casualty in the first movie, as Harry Melling's Merrick painfully worked out what happened when you mess with Andy's team.

All of the main cast will return for the sequel, so that's Charlize Theron as Andy, KiKi Layne as Nile, Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker, Marwan Kenzari as Joe and Luca Marinelli as Nicky.

Chiwetel Ejiofor 's Copley has now seen the error of his ways and, at the end of the first movie, is tasked with ensuring the team remain hidden from anyone who would do them harm (like Merrick).

Ejiofor has been confirmed to return, too, but it's unclear if he'll have a major role in the sequel or will just be an M-like figure on the outside.

Instead, it seems that Veronica Ngo will play a key part in the sequel as the returning Quynh, but it's not yet clear whether that will be as a friend or foe to the team.

In the comics, Quynh's character is named Noriko and is Japanese. The decision to change it came after Veronica Ngo was cast, and it doesn't mean that another character called Noriko will arrive in the sequel.

"When Veronica was cast, she said, 'I'm not Japanese – I'm Vietnamese'. [Director Gina Prince-Bythewood] reached out to me and said, 'Can we accommodate that?' and I was like, 'absolutely'," Greg Rucka confirmed.

"Noriko becomes Quynh – Quynh is now Vietnamese. It really was as simple as wanting to honour that and be respectful of that."

It's also possible that we could see more of Micheal Ward as fallen Old Guard member Lykon.

We saw him die in flashbacks to Andy and Quynh's time together, but could there be more to his story? He's the only immortal we've heard of to die, so it could be something explored as we get more of Andy and Quynh's relationship.

Two new faces have been confirmed for the sequel in the form of Uma Thurman and Henry Golding . We don't yet know who they'll be playing and whether, like Quynh, they'll be friend or foe to Andy and her team.

The Old Guard ending: How does it set up The Old Guard 2?

As we've spoken about in more detail here , the most significant bit of the ending comes in the credits scene.

We catch up with Booker in Paris six months after he's been banished from the team due to his betrayal. As he walks into his place, he's greeted by none other than Quynh, who has somehow escaped from the bottom of the ocean.

"It's nice to finally meet you," she tells him, but that's all we get from Quynh's return, so we'll have to wait until the sequel to see if she's out for vengeance or whether she just wants to be reunited with Andy.

Rucka has already written a second Old Guard comic book called Force Multiplied that also starts with Quynh's return.

To give a tease of what to expect, the comic book sequel sees Quynh reveal that she thinks they've been made immortal to make humanity suffer, rather than to save it, and she wants Andy to join her in her quest, and as her lover again .

But if you want all of the answers and what happens next, you can read the comic as you wait for the potential sequel.

The other major reveal that will have an impact on the sequel is that Andy is now technically no longer immortal.

She realises this when a stab wound from an earlier fight in church doesn't heal, so now, every battle could technically be her last. Andy believes that the arrival of Nile has led to this massive change.

"I think you showed up when I lost my immortality. So I could see what it was like. So I could remember. Remember what it… what it was like to feel unbreakable. Remarkable. You reminded me there are people still worth fighting for," she explained.

It's one of the biggest changes from the comic book it's based on, but it's a vital one , as it adds a tension that could have been missing from a movie about immortal soldiers.

That's about all we know so far about the story of the sequel, but we can also expect that Theron's Andy will be sporting a striking new hairstyle . "We needed something that felt like time had passed, so for that, you go with the ol' mullet," Theron explained.

The Old Guard 2 trailer: Any footage from The Old Guard 2 yet?

Filming might have finished on The Old Guard 2 , but unfortunately, it'll probably be a while before we see any footage, as there's still no release date.

The Old Guard is available to watch on Netflix. The Old Guard 2 does not yet have a release date.

We're still waiting for The Old Guard 2, so here's all you need to know about Charlize Theron's Netflix sequel, including potential release date and cast.


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‘The Idea of You’ Review: Surviving Celebrity

Anne Hathaway headlines a movie that’s got a lot to say about the perils of fame.

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A man and a woman, both wearing sunglasses, walk down a city street. The man has his arm around the woman, who is holding a cup of coffee.

By Alissa Wilkinson

Women of a certain age (that is, my age) feel like they grew up alongside Anne Hathaway, because, well, we did. We were awkward teens together when she made “The Princess Diaries” in 2001. We felt ourselves to be put-upon entry-level hirelings right when “The Devil Wears Prada” came out in 2006. We understood her broken-down narcissistic addict in “Rachel Getting Married,” because who couldn’t? And we watched the Hathaway backlash, pegged to public perception that she was trying too hard, and worried that people saw us the same way.

Now we’re 40-ish. We know for sure that Gen Z considers millennials to be cringe, and, thankfully, we no longer feel the need to care. The greatest gift of reaching middle age is having settled into yourself, and that is apparently what Hathaway, age 41, has done . She has been through the celebrity wringer (and more ) and come out the other side looking radiant, with a long list of credits in movies that swing from standard commercial fare to auteurist masterpieces.

This is perhaps why it’s so satisfying to see her name come first — alone, before the title credit — in “The Idea of You,” which is on its surface a relatively fluffy little film. Based on the sleeper hit novel by Robinne Lee, “The Idea of You” is plainly fantasy, in the fan fiction mold, that poses the question: What if Harry Styles, the British megastar and former frontman of One Direction, fell madly in love with a hot 40-year-old mom? In this universe, the Styles character is Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), the British frontman of a five-member boy band called August Moon.

Hathaway plays Solène Marchand, an art gallery owner whose arrogantly useless ex-husband, Daniel (Reid Scott), buys v.i.p. meet-and-greet tickets for their 16-year-old daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin), and her two best friends, all of whom were huge August Moon fans … in the seventh grade.

The event is at Coachella, and Daniel is set to take the teenagers but backs out at the last second, citing a work emergency. Solène reluctantly agrees to take them, and while at the festival, mistakes Hayes’s trailer for the bathroom. They meet, it’s cute, and you can guess what happens next.

Or can you? It was clear about 10 minutes into the movie that what was required for enjoyment was to surrender to the daydreaming, and so, with very little internal protest, I did. How could I resist? Solène is smart, competent, kind and secure; she has great hair and a great wardrobe; and most important, she seems like a real person, even if the situation in which she finds herself greatly stretches the bonds of credibility.

More than once, I was struck by how authentically 40 Solène seemed to me — a woman capable of making her own decisions, even ones she thinks might be ill-advised — and how weirdly rare it is to see that kind of character in a movie. She has a kid, and friends, and a career. She reads books and looks at art, and she is flattered by this 24-year-old superstar’s attention but takes a long time to come around to the idea that it may not be a joke.

Solène also feels real shame and real resolve in the course of the winding fairy tale story, which predictably has to go south. But most of all, she’s in a movie that doesn’t try to shame her, or patronize her, or make her appear ridiculous for having desires and fantasies of her own. She’s just who she is, and it’s simple to understand her appeal to someone whose life has never been his own.

Directed by Michael Showalter, who wrote the adapted screenplay with Jennifer Westfeldt, “The Idea of You” succeeds mostly because of Hathaway’s performance, though she and Galitzine spark and banter pleasurably (and he can dance and sing, too). It tweaks the novel in a number of ways — Hayes is older than the book’s character, for one thing — and also seems to implicitly know it’s a movie, and that movies have a strange relationship with age-gap romances.

In fact, that’s one of its strengths. Several times, characters remark on the double standard attached to people’s judgment of Solène and Hayes’s relationship, hypothesizing that in a gender-swapped situation, people would be high-fiving the older man who landed the hot younger star. Sixteen years looks like a lot on paper, but in the movies, at least, it is barely a blip.

That musing is interesting enough, if a familiar one. More fascinating in “The Idea of You” is its treatment of the cage of celebrity. Hayes seems mature compared with his bandmates and the girls who follow them around, but he’s also clearly stuck in some kind of arrested development. And I do mean stuck: He is self-aware enough to tell Solène, plaintively, that he auditioned for the band when he was 14 and not much has changed beyond his level of fame. He wants a life beyond the spotlight, badly.

And that’s just what he can’t get. Neither can Solène, nor, eventually, anyone around her. The idea of living a quiet life might obviously be out of reach, but the added elements of tabloid news and rabid fans unafraid to treat Hayes as if they know him make things far worse. The film starts to feel a little like the tale of a monster, but the monster is parasociality, encouraged by the illusion of intimacy that the modern superstar machine relies on to keep selling tickets and merch and albums and whatever else keeps the star in the spotlight.

It’s probably coincidental that “The Idea of You” comes on the heels of Taylor Swift’s latest album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” on which she strongly implies that her carefully cultivated fandom has made her love life a nightmare. But spiritually, at least, they’re of a piece — even if the origins of the film’s plot seem as much borne of parasociality as a critique of it. And that makes Hathaway’s performance extra poignant. She’s been dragged into that buzz saw before. And somehow, she’s figured out how to make a life on the other side of it.

The Idea of You Rated R for getting hot and heavy, plus some language. Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes. Watch on Prime Video .

Alissa Wilkinson is a Times movie critic. She’s been writing about movies since 2005. More about Alissa Wilkinson

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One character is constantly drinking Diet Coke, an

Colt is unwittingly drugged and doesn't enjoy it,

Parents need to know that The Fall Guy is a big, boomy action comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Like the 1980s TV series it's based on, the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, poking fun at Hollywood while celebrating the hard, often unrecognized work of stunt performers. Gosling's Colt has a…

Positive Messages

When you fall down, you gotta get back up and do it again. Honest communication is essential to a strong relationship. Supporting the people you love and respect is an important job. Finish what you start.

Positive Role Models

Colt Seaver is very aspirational, doing daring and dangerous stunts, outsmarting villains, and getting the girl. He's also able to admit to his mistakes and try to correct them, and he demonstrates integrity and humility while searching for the truth. Jody is a camera operator who becomes a director (both fields that have been historically tough for women to crack in Hollywood); she's serious about her work and doesn't let Colt get away with his iffy treatment of her. Stunt coordinator Dan is a good, supportive friend who helps Colt solve the mystery. Gail is tightly wound but effective at getting things done; Tom is a self-centered, overconfident blowhard who seems like a parody of Hollywood action stars.

Diverse Representations

Main characters Colt (Ryan Gosling), Jody (Emily Blunt), Gail (Hannah Waddingham), and Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are White. Colt's best buddy, Dan (Winston Duke), is Black; he's the stunt supervisor on the movie, which puts him in charge of a lot of people. Tom's resourceful assistant is played by Chinese American actor Stephanie Hsu, and there are other characters of color in smaller/background roles, though the only brown character with a notable speaking part (Matuse, who's Arab Australian) has a cliched role as a drug dealer. Jody achieves her goal of becoming a director and is shown extensively on the job, leading her crew. There look to be as many women as men working on the production, including women of color, and women are just as able in fights as men (both Jody and Hsu's character deliver some serious smackdowns). The movie's plot revolves around stunt performers, who are famously unrecognized for doing the most dangerous work and getting little credit.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Near-constant action violence -- flipping cars, chases, huge jumps, serious falls, fistfights, being set on fire, explosions, pyrotechnics, battling with swords, etc. -- much of which is shown in the context of being stunts for a sci-fi movie, with cameras and safety gear present. In "real life," Colt faces villains who beat him up (with some blood/injuries), chase him, and shoot at him; he's often in deep peril, but the dialogue and winking tone help remind viewers that none of it is real. Prop and "real" weapons (guns, swords, bottles) are used, an attack dog bites baddies in the groin, tasers are used, a dead body is seen, and characters briefly think that someone important to them has died. One serious on-set accident is life-threatening, but the crash itself isn't shown, just the before and after (but the after leads to hospitalization).

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Plot is motivated by a love story. Flirting. Dating montage. Kisses. Desirable things are described as "sexy bacon."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Strong language includes "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "d--k," "p---y," " bitch," "balls," "damn," "goddamn," "hell," "for God's sake," "oh my God," "Jesus Christ," "bulls--t," "dips--t," and one somewhat hard to hear use of "f--king." Several middle-finger gestures.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

One character is constantly drinking Diet Coke, and Colt's brown and gold GMC pickup truck is heavily featured (as it was in the original TV show). Other vehicles are also featured, including Dodge, Audi, and Hummer. Other brands/logos seen include iPhone, Caterpillar, Hydroflask, NASA, Miami Vice .

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Colt is unwittingly drugged and doesn't enjoy it, although his trip is played for laughs. A drug dealer initially seems menacing but is ultimately a coward. References to a high-status but unlikeable character partying and doing drugs, which leads to negative consequences. Drinking throughout (beer, champagne, shots). At a bar, Colt orders a famously non-alcoholic drink, the Shirley Temple. He and Jody talk about drinking margaritas together.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Fall Guy is a big, boomy action comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt . Like the 1980s TV series it's based on, the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, poking fun at Hollywood while celebrating the hard, often unrecognized work of stunt performers. Gosling's Colt has a life-threatening injury in the beginning of the movie (though the accident itself isn't shown), but, beyond that, stunt work is made to look really cool, even aspirational. The movie was directed by former stunt performer David Leitch , who's known for creating some of the industry's best action sequences, and it has tons of action violence and peril, as well as a glimpse of a dead body and another implied death. But viewers are constantly reminded that most of the physical fights, attacks, shoot-outs, car crashes, explosions, and -- of course -- giant jumps, car rolls, and falls, are stunts. Drug use is part of the storyline, and while it's not presented in a positive light, the consequences are funny. Characters also drink (beer, tequila shots, champagne) and swear ("s--t," "goddamn," "a--hole," "p---y," and more, plus one use of "f--king"), and the movie's romantic elements include flirting and kissing. There are clear messages about persistence and integrity, as well as the importance of honest communication. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

Where to Watch

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Jody and Colt standing in front of a film set

Community Reviews

  • Parents say (5)
  • Kids say (7)

Based on 5 parent reviews

A fun movie!

What's the story.

Colt Seavers ( Ryan Gosling ) is THE FALL GUY, an experienced stunt performer who recently suffered a near-career (and life) ending injury on set. During his first post-recovery gig, trouble brews when Colt learns the movie's self-centered star, Tom Ryder ( Aaron Taylor-Johnson ), is missing, and that first-time director Jody ( Emily Blunt ) -- who also happens to be Colt's former girlfriend -- is frantically trying to save the film. Can he save the day? (Be sure to watch through closing credits, which show the actual stunt performers doing the stunts you just saw in the movie.)

Is It Any Good?

Director David Leitch 's reimagining of the 1980s TV series starring Lee Majors series is a kick, a happy adrenaline rush that's a fun pick for families with teens to watch together. You can absolutely enjoy it without having ever seen the original show, but fans should be assured that Leitch brings back what matters: the reveal of the grueling, dangerous work that stunt performers do to entertain us and the easy, casual cool of Colt Seavers. Colt, who's as aspirational as it gets (especially as played by Gosling), is also a great role model because he's effortlessly humble. It feels like humility is a quality that entertainment seems to have forgotten in recent years -- a lapse that's spilled over into real life, too. But as the catchy theme song goes (here performed with energetic verve by Blake Shelton), a stunt performer knows: "I might fall from a tall building, I might roll a brand new car, because I'm the unknown stuntman, who made Redford such a star."

Other than Colt and Jody, the characters are comedically exaggerated and the story isn't based in reality. This is another nod to the silliness of '80s action TV -- remember, this was the era of Mr. T and Kitt the talking car. But the plot doesn't really matter all that much Instead, Leitch offers moviegoers a peek of what life is like on set -- including laughing at the earned characteristics of those in certain roles (the frazzled, diet soda-slurping producer, the egomaniac movie star, the assistant director who manages through threats, etc.). And he gives gives us the joy of feeling like we're part of the film crew, riding wires, dodging bullets, and laughing alongside Colt. Yes, it's maybe a little goofy, but The Fall Guy is also just so much fun.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the courage , humility , and resilience it takes to work as a stunt performer. How is that shown in The Fall Guy ? Why are these important character strengths, no matter your age or profession?

How did the action violence make you feel? Did you ever feel like it was "real" or feel afraid or worried? Did the behind-the-scenes glimpses -- both as seen through Colt's eyes and the actual making-of footage during the credits -- impact how you internalized the violence and peril?

Is drug use glamorized in The Fall Guy ? If getting high is shown as funny, even if the character isn't enjoying it, does that unintentionally make drug use look fun? Why, or why not?

Did you learn anything about how movies are made from watching? Why do you think the fake (and real) movie filmed in Australia?

Why is Jody's occupation a notable example of female representation? Why is it important to show her doing her job extensively and capably? Why do you think there are so few female movie directors when there are more women than men graduating from film school? What can we, as moviegoers, do to change that?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : May 3, 2024
  • Cast : Ryan Gosling , Emily Blunt , Hannah Waddingham , Aaron Taylor-Johnson , Winston Duke
  • Director : David Leitch
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors, Black actors
  • Studio : Universal Pictures
  • Genre : Action/Adventure
  • Topics : Great Boy Role Models
  • Character Strengths : Communication , Courage , Humility
  • Run time : 126 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : action and violence, drug content and some strong language
  • Last updated : May 5, 2024

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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This Underrated Legal Drama With Robert Downey Jr. Is Climbing the Netflix Charts

Netflix fans have reached a verdict: The Judge is a winner.

  • Robert Downey Jr. shined in The Judge , a film that finally found success on Netflix despite mixed early reviews.
  • A family drama with a courtroom twist, The Judge features a strong ensemble cast, including Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.
  • At 2 hours and 20 minutes, The Judge is a perfect streaming choice for a Sunday afternoon movie session.

From 2008 to 2019, Oscar-winner Robert Downey Jr . starred in 18 movies. Of those 18, 10 of them featured him playing Tony Stark . Naturally, those were his most successful of that time period or any other (not including the smashing success of Oppenheimer ). Still, there was also an assortment of smaller movies that did well in their own right. Jon Favreau's Chef was a likable indie that quadrupled its budget. Due Date grossed over $100 million domestically despite poor reviews and a crass tone. The Sherlock Holmes movies performed well with critics and audiences alike, though less so with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows .

And, now that 2014's The Judge (which debuted between Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron ) is one of the most-streamed movies on Netflix , it's finally become a hit. But, given its mixed reviews from critics and $85 million worldwide haul on a budget of $50 million for a while there, it was not. To be fair, $50 million is a hefty price tag for a family drama. Even still, time can be kind to a crowd-pleaser, and given the Netflix audience's reaction to it, those behind The Judge can now call it a successful, pleasant Sunday afternoon movie.

Robert Downey Jr.'s Role in The Judge

The Judge tells the tale of Hank Palmer and his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (a role for which Jack Nicholson was once considered, though Downey Jr. nixed the idea ). The former is a smug, jaded Chicago-based lawyer far removed from his small-town Indiana upbringing. He returns home upon receiving word that his mother has passed away and, once there, notices some odd damage on the fender of his father's (who he just calls 'Judge') car.

It turns out Judge may very well be behind a hit-and-run. Yet, given his newfound memory lapses, there's reason to believe him when he says he doesn't remember such an incident. However, given Hank's knowledge that his father is a recovering alcoholic, his skepticism is apparent.

While unraveling this mystery, Hank finally gets to build a relationship with his father , who sent him to juvenile detention as a teen instead of helping him as he could have. Not only that, he can also rebuild his relationships with his brothers, though neither dynamic was as damaged as the one between Hank and his dad. Along the way to proving either innocence or guilt, Hank may very well run into an old flame, one whose fire never quite died out in his heart.

The Judge Features Several Hollywood A-Listers

Downey Jr. and Duvall play, of course, the lead roles , Hank and Judge Joseph Palmer, respectively. The vast majority of the narrative is centered on not only Joseph's alleged crime but also his tense and tenuous relationship with his son. And, really, the latter is the true meat of the film. Though, as impressive as Downey Jr.'s performance is, he certainly has been given the opportunity to show more range via his quadruple role in HBO's The Sympathizer .

But there's also the rest of the Palmer clan. Vincent D'Onofrio brings a warmth to Glen , Hank's older brother, while Succession 's Jeremy Strong is given a difficult task as Dale , Hank's younger brother. Dale has an intellectual disability, and while the script certainly could have done more to flesh out both characters, at least each gets to flex their acting muscles via a tender moment or two with Downey Jr.

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As for the remainder of the primary cast, Vera Farmiga gets a few solid scenes as Samantha Powell, Hank's old flame. She remained in their small hometown even after he left. Yet, like Hank, the physical distance that grew between them didn't permanently squash their emotional intimacy and mutual understanding. In other words, she's the one who shows him that, even if you move away, part of your heart will always belong to where (and with whom) you grew up.

For the film's requisite courtroom scenes, two very different performers play two very different characters. On one hand, there's Billy Bob Thornton as prosecutor Dwight Dickham . Cold and by the books, he's the perfect villain for a movie like this. That said, like Dax Shepard's incompetent defense attorney, C.P. Kennedy , he's essentially relegated to a one-note character.

Still, they're given more to do than Leighton Meester as Carla Powell , the daughter of Farmiga's Samantha. She, more or less, exists to fuel a subplot where Hank hits on her only to find out who she really is. Naturally, given her age and his and Samantha's past, his mind races as to who her father is. It's the only subplot that feels a bit tacked on but is not much of a distraction.

What Makes The Judge a Perfect Streaming Film?

At 2 hours and 20 minutes, The Judge was a lot of familial tension for an expensive movie theater trip . But given its tone, which isn't overbearing, it can prove to be a solid popcorn movie (provided the corn is popped at home). After all, it was helmed by David Dobkin, the director of Wedding Crashers .

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Could the film have done with a rewrite, especially when fleshing out the supporting cast (effectively everyone save for Downey Jr. and Duvall)? Yes, but a movie with a handful of solid performances and a relatable nature can survive an average script. That's the case for The Judge , which is more rewatchable than most dramas centered around a dysfunctional relationship. In other words, it was practically born to earn its audience via streaming. The Judge is streaming now on Netflix .

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The Idea of You Is a Mostly Not-Guilty Pleasure

Portrait of Alison Willmore

Hayes Campbell, the 24-year-old love interest played by Nicholas Galitzine in The Idea of You , is not Harry Styles. But he’s also not not Harry Styles. He’s British, tattooed, loves an oversize cardigan — and he’s a member of a boy band that he’s on the verge of outgrowing. The former One Direction member is an inspiration author Robinne Lee has cited for the novel on which the movie is based, and while The Idea of You isn’t Harry Styles fan fiction (a budding subgenre ), Hayes does retain the fuzzy outline of a projection. He isn’t a complete character, not like Solène Marchand (Anne Hathaway), the 40-year-old Silver Lake gallery owner whose chance run-in with him at Coachella, while accompanying her teenage daughter to a meet-and-greet, leads to a hectic affair. He is, as the title suggests, an idea — the hunky young pop star who enjoys the benefits of being part of a commercial phenomenon while also staying above it, more sensitive, more talented, and more inclined to not just appreciate the charms of an older woman, but to fall in love with her.

The Idea of You is a fantasy, but not the one you might expect upon reading the logline of the movie. Directed with uninspired competence by Michael Showalter, its escapism is less erotic than demographic, a dream of being able to partake in a cultural offering that isn’t for you anymore. Solène is recently divorced from finance asshole Dan (Reid Scott) and trying not to project bitterness about him leaving her for a younger co-worker. She can’t be a fan of Hayes’s band, August Moon. That would be humiliating, as the movie makes clear from her encounter with a middle-aged Moonhead clutching a poster in the VIP lounge. August Moon is a manufactured product, five cute boys with different personas assembled, as Hayes tells her, from head shots on a wall. Solène’s 17-year-old daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin), has already outgrown their music, which is all adolescent yearning. But her connection with Hayes, sparked when she mistakenly walks into his trailer thinking it’s the bathroom, provides her with a way of enjoying his show without shame. Even as the movie assures us that Hayes is more than just a teenybopper by showing him noodling around on a guitar in service of his own compositions, it revels in the experience of standing on the side of the stage in front of an arena full of screaming teenagers, being serenaded by someone making it clear the pop song he’s singing is for you.

This offering is more alluring than it sounds. Solène’s life is covetable, with her Silver Lake Craftsman, roster of good friends, and charming business, but it’s also very grown-up. A montage of Solène getting hit on by awkward or not-actually-separated men at her birthday party previews what dating as a 40-something will be like. Meanwhile, Hayes is there with his uncomplicated musical pleas for love and his itinerant existence flying around in a private plane and idling in European cities between shows — a life unencumbered by adult baggage. The first time he and Solène are together, it’s in a hotel room above Manhattan, an idyllic non-space where they can fall into each other’s arms and then order room service afterward. It’s a sexy scene, though every other lusty encounter is folded into montages that prioritize the image of them sprawling in luxury sheets over actual hooking up. With Izzy at camp and Solène’s gallery emptied out by Hayes’s purchases, he coaxes an initially resistant Solène to come with him on tour, an interlude presented as a delirious whirl of sightseeing and tumbling around different rented suites — a romance as vacation.

Galitzine, coming off the much sillier Red, White & Royal Blue , never comes close to summoning the charisma of a successful performing artist. That doesn’t derail the movie too much, because it’s so overwhelmingly about Solène, and as Solène, Hathaway gives a particularly lovely and vulnerable performance. She’s radiant as a woman reconnecting with big, swooping emotions, and reminding herself that those feelings are not the exclusive territory of the young. At 41, Hathaway hardly looks older than her 29-year-old co-star, which dulls a lot of the provocation that’s meant to come with the age gap between the lovers. The performers themselves may not sizzle with innate chemistry, but the movie manages to be sultry regardless, thanks to the spectacle of Solène feeling desirable. When she shows up in New York in heels and a trench coat that she peels off to reveal a sheer dress, it’s like looking at someone who’s just walked into a spotlight. The Idea of You could stand to be a little more indulgent — it allows the real world to rush into its unexpected relationship almost before it gets going — but it’s surprisingly seductive even with its restraint. Anyone can holler along to a One Direction song in the privacy of their home, but it’s something else to reconnect with the feelings expressed by one of those big choruses.

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Movie Review: In 'The Idea of You,' a boy band is center stage but Anne Hathaway steals the show

In the warmly charming rom-com “The Idea of You,” Anne Hathaway plays a 40-year-old divorcee who becomes romantically involved with a 24-year-old heartthrob in a boy band called August Moon

In the warmly charming rom-com “The Idea of You," Anne Hathaway plays a 40-year-old divorcee and Silver Lake art gallery owner who, after taking her teenage daughter to Coachella, becomes romantically involved with a 24-year-old heartthrob in the boy band August Moon. They first meet after she mistakes his trailer for the bathroom.

There are a few hundred things about this premise that might be farfetched, including the odds of finding love anywhere near the porta johns of a music festival. But one of them is not that a young star like Hayes Campbell ( Nicholas Galitzine ) would fall for a single mom like Solène (Hathaway).

Solène is stylish, unimpressed by Hayes' celebrity and has bangs so perfect they look genetically modified. And, most importantly, she's Anne Hathaway. In the power dynamics of “The Idea of You,” Hayes may be a fictional pop star but Hathaway is a very real movie star. And you don't forget it for a moment in Michael Showalter's lightly appealing showcase of the actor at her resplendent best.

“The Idea of You,” which debuts Thursday on Prime Video, is full of all the kinds of contradictions that can make a rom-com work. The highly glamorous, megawatt-smiling Hathaway is playing a down-to-earth nobody. The showbiz veteran in the movie is played by Galitzine, a less well-known but up-and-coming British actor whose performance in the movie is quite authentic. And even though the whole scenario is undeniably a glossy high-concept Hollywood fairy tale, Showalter gives it enough texture that “The Idea of You” comes off more natural and sincere than you'd expect.

The only thing that really needs to make perfect sense in a movie like “The Idea of You” is the chemistry. The film, penned by Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt from Robinne Lee's bestseller, takes its time in the early scenes between Solène and Hayes — first at Coachella, then when he stops by her gallery — allowing their rapport to build convincingly, and giving each actor plenty of time to smolder.

Once the steamy hotel-room encounters come in “The Idea of You,” the movie has, if not swept you away, then at least ushered you along on a European trip of sex and room service. At the same time, it stays faithful to its central mission of celebrating middle-aged womanhood. The relationship will eventually cause a social media firestorm, but its main pressure point is whether Solène can stick with Hayes after her ex-husband ( Reid Scott ) cheated on her. This is a fairy tale she deserves.

While Showalter ( "The Big Sick" ) has long showed a great gift for juggling comedy and drama at once, “The Idea of You” leans more fully into wish-fulfillment romance. That can leave less to sustain the film, which has notably neutered some of the things that distinguished the book.

The May-December romance has been shrunk a little. In the book, the singer is 20. Given that Galitzine is 29 and the 41-year-old Hathaway is no one's idea of old, this is more like a July-September relationship. In the book, the daughter (Ella Rubin) is a huge admirer of the pop singer, adding to the awkwardness, but in the movie, August Moon is “so 7th grade” to her.

There are surely more interesting and funnier places “The Idea of You" could have gone. But Hathaway and Galitzine are a good enough match that, for a couple hours, it's easy to forget.

But the most convincing thing about “The Idea of You”? August Moon. The movie nails the look and sound of boy bands so well because it went straight to the source. The original songs in the film are by Savan Kotecha and Carl Falk, the producer-songwriters of, among other pop hits, “What Makes You Beautiful," One Direction's debut single.

That connection will probably only further the sense that “The Idea of You" is very nearly “The Idea of Harry Styles.” The filmmakers have distanced the movie from any real-life resemblances. But one thing is for sure: With August Moon following 4(asterisk)Town of “Turning Red” (whose songs were penned by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell ), we are living in the golden age of the fictional boy band.

“The Idea of You,” an Amazon MGM Studios release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association for some language and sexual content. Running time: 115 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You.

The Idea of You review – Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine spark in crowd-pleasing romcom

A single mum and a boyband heart-throb make sweet music in Michael Showalter’s precision-tooled adaptation of Robinne Lee’s bestseller

F rom the crackling Coachella meet-cute between 40-year-old single mum Solène (Anne Hathaway) and 24-year-old boyband heart-throb Hayes (Nicholas Galitzine), to the on-point wardrobe choices (she’s chic but not try-hard; he’s adorable in a grey ombre mohair cardie), to the lavish stage shows, to the sparking chemistry between the pair: this adaptation of Robinne Lee ’s romantic novel is a sleek, precision-tooled crowd pleaser. Some of the music is insipid (although Galitzine, performing his own vocals, acquits himself soulfully). Elsewhere, though, there’s an unexpectedly abrasive quality to Michael Showalter’s romcom.

Solène is enviably poised, the kind of woman who rarely feels the need to apologise for herself. But while the film’s message, that women over 40 have every right to romantic fulfilment, is empowering, it also acknowledges that finding love with an impossibly pretty, sweet-natured pop star comes with its own unique set of challenges. That said, this adaptation wisely departs from the novel’s downbeat conclusion and permits Solène and Hayes a ray of hope for the future.

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    The Old Guard is a run-of-the-mill genre action movie at first glance that becomes so much more once you dive in. Charlize Theron delivers an excellent performance as Andy, a hardened, flawed, and ...

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  9. The Old Guard (2020)

    The movie sets up great mythology, has good action, and interesting characters. It's not all good though, the villain sucks, and the third act betrayal was predictable. Overall I enjoyed The Old Guard, and I hope they make a sequel. 5/10. Felt more like a poor quality TV movie.

  10. Movie Review: Netflix's The Old Guard, with Charlize Theron

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  11. Charlize Theron in 'The Old Guard' on Netflix: Film Review

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  12. The Old Guard (2020)

    Film Movie Reviews The Old Guard — 2020. The Old Guard. 2020. 2h 5m. R. Action/Thriller. Where to Watch. ... In a year without Marvel movies, The Old Guard redefined the superhero blockbuster.

  13. The Old Guard Movie Review

    Parents need to know that The Old Guard is a fast-paced, gory action-adventure movie with two brave, highly skilled women (Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne) in the lead roles. It's based on Greg Rucka's graphic novels about a small team of immortals who travel the world over the centuries to help humanity….

  14. The Old Guard

    Generally Favorable Based on 45 Critic Reviews. 70. 76% Positive 34 Reviews. 22% Mixed 10 Reviews. 2% Negative 1 Review ... I watch The Old Guard and try to imagine a new world, one where other comic-book movies are this well made and breathtaking. ... you look at the name of the movie and say; "meh". But The Old Guard is far from being a Meh ...

  15. 'The Old Guard' Is A Smart Blend Of Action And Emotion

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  16. The Old Guard (2020 film)

    The Old Guard is a 2020 American superhero film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and written by Greg Rucka, based on his comic book of the same name.The film stars Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Veronica Ngo, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and follows a team of immortal mercenaries on a revenge mission.

  17. The Old Guard

    The Old Guard may feel fresh and new. But in some ways, it's the same old story. Anchored by a strong performance by Charlize Theron, Netflix's latest actioner (based on a comic book of the same name) is one of the more intense, intriguing, throwaway action movies you'll see during this COVID-interrupted movie season.

  18. The Old Guard review

    The Old Guard review - Charlize Theron has an axe to grind This article is more than 3 years old Theron lets rip as immortal warrior Andy in Gina Prince Bythewood's fast-paced but patchy comic ...

  19. The Old Guard Review

    Regular flurries of bullets and blades serve as the film's main strength, and while unlikely to give David Leitch any sleepless nights, The Old Guard gets points for leaning into the idea that ...

  20. The Old Guard review: Netflix's new twist on intense comic-book action

    Turns out they're still human after all. Based on the graphic-novel series by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the film's screenplay, the screen adaptation of The Old Guard feels like a slick ...

  21. The Old Guard Review: Solid World-Building, But Predictable

    Something old, something new. Sadly, The Old Guard goes in a few too many predictable directions to hold any surprises. Time and time again, the film layers one well-worn action trope after ...

  22. The Old Guard review

    Not even Charlize Theron can save an action movie crying out for a comic touch to match the silliness of its premise Peter Bradshaw Fri 3 Jul 2020 11.00 EDT Last modified on Fri 3 Jul 2020 11.02 EDT

  23. The Old Guard

    Forever is harder than it looks. Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die h...

  24. All you need to know about The Old Guard 2 on Netflix

    As mentioned above, The Old Guard 2 doesn't have a confirmed release date on Netflix as of April 2024. The first movie proved a hit on Netflix when it was released in July 2020, so we thought The ...

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