Whoever it is in Netflix that keeps greenlighting action movies like 'Extraction', or now 'The Old Guard', it's OK to stop now.
Whatever experiment they were trying to run, or whether it was simply following the algorithm, it's managed to cough up two of the blandest and uniquely flat action movies in recent memory - both of them with a major star leading the charge and serviceable second-tier actors in supporting roles.
This time around, Charlize Theron plays a mercenary with short hair with some of the hokiest lines ever yet written in history who, together with her merry band of male models, roam across the globe taking on jobs that meet their moral standards, or not, as it seems to be in a couple of places.
The catch is none of them can die, and they have to keep moving to stay ahead of people and governments learning who they are - hence the name, 'The Old Guard'. One painfully scripted moment sees Charlize Theron deleting a photo from someone's phone that she just so happened crop up in the background of, and does so by offering to take another photo for said person. That's the level of detail you're dealing with here, people.
So, after all this time spent traversing time and fashions, a new immortal has suddenly appeared out of nowhere - this time, a young US Marine who has her throat cut, but wait! They can all feel it! And there's now a pharmaceutical mega-corporation on their tail trying to find their secret!
For a movie that has such bargain-basement plotting that feels like it's taken from a videogame thirty years ago, you'd imagine that the direction and the performances would need to go along with that. Just lean into the silliness of it all, let everyone do their thing, pair a good second-unit director in their first directing role with a stylish cinematographer, and make something - if nothing else - at least looks good.
Not so, unfortunately. For one, the director is Gina Prince-Blythewood, who did the excellent 'Love & Basketball' a few years back, and is primarily known for romantic dramas. Putting a director inexperienced in action is one thing, but it's clear from watching twenty minutes of this that it should be her first and last attempt at it.
The screenplay for 'The Old Guard' is by Greg Rucka, and is about as uninspired and flat as they come. What's worse is that he's adapting his own work, and can't even seem to make it at least interesting in the first place. Add to that a completely mismatched cast that are playing it far too earnestly, and it's just a mess of a movie from start to finish.
The action scenes are poorly staged and directed, without a sliver of originality to be found in any of them. Likewise, the music is poorly chosen and barges it in at the worst possible moments, often drowning out the terrible dialogue. All in all, it's just a bland mess that will clog up Netflix's library for a few weeks before it falls into the black hole of failed action franchises on the streaming platform.
Check out our 3 minute video review below: