This article we’re breaking down The Old Guard on Netflix.
The Charlize Theron movie has just dropped today and there’s a lot to unpack from it.
Throughout this, we’ll be going through everything you need to know about the film, including it’s ending, the source material that inspired it and where the franchise could be going.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you havent had a chance to check it out yet then I highly recommend that you check out now.
With that out the way, thank you for clicking this, now let’s get into our breakdown of The Old Guard.
The Old Guard Immortals Explained
Ok so the Old Guard is based on the comic book of the same name by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez. The 2017 release gained a lot of critical acclaim at the time and it’s been a quick turn around taking this from comic to comic book movie in a matter of years.
It’s easy to see why too and the source material stands head and shoulders above a lot of other releases due to it’s unique concept.
Like the source material, the movie follows a group of immortal mercenaries that travel the world completing jobs. They’re basically like The True Knot from Doctor Sleep but not a bunch of chumps.
We as humans sort of gain purpose in life knowing that time is of the essence, however when it comes to the characters in the old guard, they live pretty lonely lives due to merely existing through the ages and knowing countless people that have died.
They are clearly tired of it and in some ways it’s like they want things to end whilst also being attached to their lives. This is exemplified by the line that opens the film in which Andromache of Scythia or rather Andy, played by Charlize Theron says that she’s exhausted.
Andy dates back all the way to ancient Greece and two of the other members were on opposing sides of the crusades. These actually ended up as lovers and are called Nicky and Joe whilst the final immortal is called Booker. Booker was a deserter during the Napoleonic war and this kinda plays into his arc.
How The Old Guard Powers Work
Now there are some caveats to their immortality and Rucka added a neat little twist to their abilities. Whilst they can heal from pretty much any wound, they can also die and they themselves are unaware of whether the next thing that happens to them will be the one that finally ends their life. So, they still fight for every moment and that’s why we don’t really see them wading into things without a strategy. This uncertainty adds tension to the work and thus makes for a gripping read.
They also dream of one another which we will discuss in just a bit but there’s a lot going on.
That’s pretty much the basic premise and the movie follows in the footsteps of the original work with us predominantly following Andy and three other members of the undying warriors as they become targets.
The Old Guard Full Movie Breakdown
The group has been lying low for some time, keeping incognito as much as possible however they have drawn the attention of people who wish to possess their gifts, namely a man called Copley.
Copley is an EX-CIA agent who’s wife died of ALS and this drove his wish to try and discover the secrets to immortality so that others won’t have to suffer like she did. Copley hires them for a rescue mission in order to save some school children that were kidnapped by a militia. Upon arriving there they discover it’s a setup, walk into a kill box, and are pretty much wiped out by the swat team there, however, due to their abilities they survive and strike back using the weapons that they’ve collected over the eons such as an axe, sword and dagger.
It’s a brilliant way to kick start the movie and though the situation is something that you’ve probably seen a million times in hitman movies before, because of the unique story of the immortals it adds something to the plot that we haven’t really seen since Highlander.
It’s here that we’re introduced to Nile who recently discovered that she’s immortal and the character becomes the audience’s eyes and ears as we learn about the group.
Now The Old Guard is actually a nickname for the oldest active duty regiment in the US army. We learn that each of the members served and due to their immortality the nickname stuck.
Copley wants to make their abilities a commodity in order to make money by selling their secrets to a scientist named Merrick that is obsessed with prolonging his life.
However, as we learn, immortality is just as much a curse as it is a gift.
A Flat Adaptation
Now I was very excited for this film and unfortunately I’m not sure if it completely delivers upon the promise of the graphic novel. Bar Andy, the characters on the whole just seem slightly mundane and for people that have long and rich lives, they seem rather, I dunno, uninteresting. They don’t really do their page counterparts justice and yeah, for me it felt meh at points.
This idea of living through wars, constant loss, and healing from every injury has of course been discussed with Wolverine in the X-men franchise and I feel like it’s done to much greater effect there.
I know they have to kinda explain how things work for an audience that isn’t aware of what’s going on but as someone who did I found the opening rather slow-paced and if you have an idea of how things are you will likely feel like Niles learning of the group is simply the story just going through the motions early on.
Theron as always brings her A-game and the Oscar winner is clearly one of the most capable actors out there. She can pretty much do it all and after Atomic Blonde really stepped into the role of an action star with ease. She definitely carries the movie and makes for a great mentor to Nile.
We also learn of the past that they have faced and how difficult it is to be different in a world that wants everyone to be the same. It’s torturous seeing some of the things that they ended up going through such as an Iron Maiden that has led to one member called Quinn spending centuries drowning over and over.
Andy and Quinn were clearly close and she promised to find the character but never managed to which led to the latter facing centuries of pain that eventually drove her insane.
I’ll talk about how she reappears at the end as there’s stuff we need to talk about but it’s definitely something to bear in mind.
Overall the group have lost everyone they’ve ever loved and there’s definitely pain laced throughout their memories.
These aspects are far more interesting than the main plot itself and I wish that went spent more time in these moments rather than the present which is basically just a run and gun storyline.
Either way you can really start to see the downside of Immortality through this and the state of guilt, misery and fear that they constantly live in.
Things Kick Up A Notch
This comes to boiling point when Copley launches an attack on the group and they kidnap Nicky and Joe which forces the others to go after them. Now we see first hand through Merrick that if you are immortal, people inevitably want to take it from you and this leads to you being hunted which means the life you have becomes bad so there was no point in being immortal in the first place. The undying are the ones left behind rather than the lucky ones and it’s definitely the films most interesting aspect
After the attack by Copley, Andy realizes that she’s no longer healing and you also see how Copley realizes he’s made a deal with the devil. Merrick is willing to subject them to all kinds of suffering in order to get what Nicky and Joe have.
Nile questions whether she wants this life or not and leaves to spend time with her family whilst she still can. This isn’t something that she wanted however she realizes that booker double-crossed them due to him giving both her and Andy an empty gun. I should’ve known you were a deserter all along with Booker.
Booker who has lived in misery for centuries realized that if they can discover how to make people immortal they can also end his life. Andy is shot and she doesn’t heal but she’s still bundled up with Booker and taken to the lab. Merrick knocks out Copley and Nile stumbles across him.
It’s here we learn that though Andy believes she doesn’t really have a purpose in life that the countless number of people that she’s saved has had massive ramifications on the world. I think this ties into the saying “he who saves one life saves the entire world” and though Andy didn’t intentionally select these people, the fact that she saved so many showed that her actions eventually led to things being good even though she viewed her actions as being bad and the world getting worse.
The Old Guard Ending
Nile heads out to rescue the group and using her immortality she’s able to fight her way through Merricks forces. She frees the group which leads to the finale and an all out shootout with Merricks forces, they forgave Booker pretty quickly.
I love how Andy uses a fire axe instead of her regular one and there are some amazing bits of combat as Andy goes out swinging in what could be her last dance.
It’s Immortal Kombat with a lot of fatalities and it definitely picks up the pace for the final act.
Andy realizes that upon being faced with death that things are actually worth fighting for and as Merrick arrives, Nile aims a gun at her to distract him so that she can attack him with the axe, allowing Nile to grab onto him and throw them both out of a skyscraper window.
It’s an awesome way to kill off the big bad and it saves Andy’s life. The group decide what to do with Booker and Nile has a tough choice to make. She can either make it look like she was killed in action to save them and her the pain that comes with being immortal. They ostricise Booker from the group for 100 years which he will spend alone and Andy says her goodbyes to him, knowing that she won’t live long enough to see him back with the group.
They reunite at Copley’s house and see the collage he has put together of all the positive ways that they have benefited humanity over time. It finally gives them purpose and makes them realise that they can no longer lie low and have to tackle things head-on and change the world in a positive way by stepping into the light instead of hiding in the shadows.
Copley will cover up what they do but they will finally make a change for the better.
Now Andy is of course in danger due to no longer being Immortal, however, I think that because of Merricks’s work, they will find a way to stabilize her condition once more and if there is another film it will center around her taking back her abilities.
The Old Guard Ending Explained
The movie sort of has an extra scene in which we see booker six months later in Paris drinking himself to d…well not death and he’s greeted by Quynh who we see has escaped from the Iron Maiden.
Now this movie adapts the Old Guard Storyline Opening Fire which started it’s five-issue run in 2017. Following this, the creative team planned a trilogy off the back of it with the second storyline being called Force Multiplied.
The film changes things slightly as in the original run, Quinn was called Noriko but I think they switched this up so that fans of the comics would have some surprises for the movie. In the source material, Noriko and Andy were lovers and they spent time sailing the world on a ship. However, Noriko was swept away by the ocean and she spent centuries drowning and ressurecting which is similar to what we see in the film.
Comic Book Differences
The character wants revenge for Andy never coming to save and though the latter just wants to talk things through, Noriko wants blood.
This leads to a big battle that spills over publicly and ends up drawing the attention of the FBI.
As of making this video the fifth and final issue has not been released and it’s due to come out on the 15th of July so make sure you let me know in the comics below if you’ve read it and what you thought.
The creative team behind the work has said that they’re planning a trilogy so there are definitely a lot of things to look forward to in regards to the franchise if a sequel goes ahead.
The Old Guard Movie Review
Ok, so what did I think of the movie?
Well, I found it a bit consistent with the first hour being a bit bland before the second half really delivered on what I wanted to see. Because of this the film was a bit unbalanced, however, Charlize is brilliant in it as are the action and flashback scenes.
It really does discuss a lot of elements that I’d want to see in a film about immortals but I don’t think it completely knocks it out of the park. In comparison to other comic book movies out right now it falls slightly short and even out of the few that have been released this year, I think it probably ranks below them all, including Bloodshot.
Saying that though it is definitely worth watching and there are a lot of interesting avenues that they can take the franchise in the future.
It’s not one I’m gonna rush back to watch but overall I’d say I enjoyed it more than I didn’t.
Thus it scores a…
Obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the old guard so make sure you comment below and let me know.