An antidote to silver screen superhero fare during an ongoing pernicious pandemic is this globetrotting action thriller having fantasy trappings and cobbled from graphic novels assisted on by scripter Greg Rucka.
The Old Guard stars Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne and Metthias Schoenaerts as the saturnine into rough-and ready folks who can last forever until perhaps they don’t.
A group of special soldiers headed by Theron’s veteran Andy (who’s seen much over many a millennium) is retained by a CIA operative named Copley (a conflicted Chiwetel Ejiofor) for a special South Sudan assignment.
Rucka’s plotting involves a set-it-up to unveil the actual gifts which can be used by scheming geneticists to unlock an other wordily code. All the while Andy gets to recruit a reluctant, similar-typed more youthful Marine in Nile (a humanistic Layne of If Beale Street Could Talk) just from Afghanistan to help her crew counter Bib Pharma enabling ambition.
A look into the characters from a gritty, as well as affectionate approach by helms-woman Gina Prince-Blythewood (who made Beyond The Lights and Love and Basketball) displays interrelations through feelings, at times atypical. With Theron exuding some her Atomic Blonde svelte, vicious moxie to go along with jaded, wry touches, the distaff presence here along with a spunky Layne reflects the prowess behind the camera.
Schoenaerts’ Booker has a stolid, keen physicality about him, and other crew members like Joe and Nicky (Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli) have a romantic, centuries long connection. Also in back up, Ejiofor isn’t nearly as riveting as in earlier turns, say, from Serenity or Children of Men. And Harry Melling, who is remembered from his appearances in the “Harry Potter” series lets Brit-flavored icy obsession take over a meddling scientist.
The set-up invites intrigue, yet The Old Guard while dialing it up with momentum spurts from well-choreographed action staged with verve by Prince-Blythewood and her craftspeople.