In a roulette of life and death, we meet Andy, an immortal soldier spinning without purpose through her existence. Stalking through the streets of Morocco, she joins Booker, Joe and Nicky, her counterparts in this cycle of violence and victory. Juxtaposing old-fashioned and modern, each use guns and swords with ease, the fluidity of their movements speaking to centuries of collective experience. 

Though the fight sequences are hypnotic, the philosophical weight is what sets this film apart, with tantalising glimpses of trauma and triumph that feed into each distinct personality. Despite the body count, killing isn’t glorified and in evaluating this mercenary life, the film cleverly contrasts those who face this alone with those in love. Pairing up the youngest with the eldest, Layne brings a stubborn yet vulnerable performance to match Theron’s aged immortal persona, unafraid to question the carnage surrounding her.  

Despite the conservative connotations of the title, diversity in The Old Guard feels refreshingly normalised like recent successes Spider-Verse and Birds of Prey, but here, the approach is gritty and realistic. This is a double-edged sword – what could be fun induces anxiety, but with such graphic injuries, the stakes feel real and Andy’s hopelessness can be felt. What the set and costumes lack in colour, the pacing makes up for in anticipation and adrenaline. Even so, it struggles with another comic book pitfall: though the film could succeed as a standalone, it relies on buildup for a sequel, not revealing quite enough of its intriguing ensemble.  

As an army of four becomes five, Prince-Bythewood actualises a nuanced hero’s journey led by women and gay characters who refuse to be buried. The otherwise cold atmosphere is warmed by its soundtrack and combined passion. Though secrecy is apt, The Old Guard teases rich backstories that deserve further exploration.



CAST: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling 

DIRECTOR: Gina Prince-Bythewood

WRITERS: Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernandez

SYNOPSIS: A small team of immortal assassins face a new threat, just as they introduce a new member to their ranks.