Fun fact about Charlize Theron: She’s technically African-American.
Another fun fact: She’s really kick-ass in action flicks and needs to do more of them.
It’s refreshing to see her again in violent fashion, this time in Netflix’s The Old Guard. The movie opens with her dead body along with those of her team, all dressed in militarized gear as she narrates, (think Kevin Spacey in American Beauty). If she’s dead, is she speaking from heaven? The answer would be no, as we try to uncover the mystery of her and her cohorts, a crew of immortals. Theron’s character Andy is thousands of years old, but she doesn’t look a day over 40-something.
The plot thickens as we find Andy’s crew called in to do some dirty work. They soon realize they are being set up. Someone is positioning them for an ambush to see if they’re actually immortal. That person is a sleazy looking guy named Merrick (Harry Melling), who wants to use the immortals as lab rats. He has a Zuckerberg-esque look to him, and a good way to understand him would be to imagine replacing the pitfalls of Facebook with the self-righteousness of a pharmaceutical lab. The idea is to find out what keeps these people and use it to save lives. Sounds noble, but of course he’s in it for the profit.
In the midst of Andy and her team being hunted, we come across Nile (the amazingly talented KiKi Layne from If Beale Street Could Talk). She’s in Afghanistan with her team of U.S. Marines as they uncover someone the person they’re looking for. After an exchange of fire, Nile tries to save the shooter and unfortunately gets close enough for her neck to get sliced open in the process. She looks like a goner but wakes up the next morning, not only alive but with no scars.
Andy and her crew find out about the incident because there’s some immortal connection where they share each other’s dreams. In other words: Holy bleep, there’s another one of them out there!
The movie opens up as Nile begrudgingly becomes one of the immortal clan (not as catchy as Wu-Tang, but more deadly). We learn more about their history and come to realize that living forever isn’t as exciting as it sounds — Andy tells Nile that she forgot what her mother looked like. We also find out that the immortal bug doesn’t last forever. Sometimes it just wears out like elastic in sweatpants. One day you get a shot to the gut and it doesn’t heal.
The film does a great job adapting the Image comic with the same name written by Greg Rucker and illustrated by Leandro Fernandez. There are some great flashbacks — a friend of Andy’s gets thrown into the ocean with an iron maiden hundreds of years ago, the team is seen fighting for the Union in the Civil War — which give the property plenty of room for sequels and prequels should the movie get a good response.
The film also has some great fight scenes, with Layne showing herself capable of holding her own against the veteran Theron.
Watching the immortals fight their way through is entertaining, even though we know they can’t gonna die — or maybe they can. They can betray each other, and such a defection forces Nile into a predicament: Do you want to be around your old family or go in guns blazing with the new one?
And we all know what happens next: Somehow the Zuckerberg-like villain snatches up the immortals and Nile has to save them in extraordinary fashion (with an ending that’s pretty satisfying).
This comic adaptation isn’t the MCU, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s worth the watch, and if Netflix is smart, it’ll have future instillments to fill the void of comic-related content on their platform.