Film recommendation: The Old Guard

Charlize Theron leads a strong cast in this entertaining, refreshingly modern action fantasy.

The summer is usually time for cinema trips blockbuster films – but not this year as most have been delayed and the cinemas are reopening with classics and indie films. But Netflix has picked up the slack so make your own popcorn (I’m getting pretty addicted to mine, to be honest) and settle down to the fun of The Old Guard.

Based on a graphic novel series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández, the film follows a group of immortals who work as international mercenaries – and have been doing so across the eras. As they embark on their latest job, they also discover they have a new recruit, Nile (Kiki Layne, so luminous in If Beale Street Could Talk), and their group is in endangered by gathering threats.

Director Gina Prince- Bythewood (Love and Basketball, Beyond the Lights) brings a freshness of touch to the action set-pieces and a tender world-weariness to Theron’s character Andy (aka Andromache of Scythia), who has seen too much across her millenia of existence. Theron is the absolute star we already knew she was, kicking proverbial ass while revealing a gentle side in her affection for her colleagues and almost maternal protective and proud feelings for Nile.

It is refreshing that we are now slowly moving to an era where characters can be in a same-sex, loving relationship and this is part of the film but not a big issue in a way that has to be flagged and discussed. Two of the immortal group, Nicky and Joe, (Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli) are in a long-term (hundreds of years, in fact!) relationship, and their love is real, gentle, important and embedded in their characters.

The plot is not all that original and the script has some flaws, but this is a highly entertaining watch for this strange summer, and there is much to be enjoyed.

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