August 3rd, 2020

The Old Guard

C and I lately suspended Hulu and signed up for a month trial of Netflix. One of the things that came up as a recommendation for me was The Old Guard, a movie based on a comic book about a small band of immortal warriors. Two friends of ours also recommended it to us, so I decided to give it a look.

I have to say that overall, I can't give it a very high rating; at a guess, I'd say around a B minus.

The biggest flaw was the primary adversary, Merrick. He was shown as a sinister corporate head in the pharmaceutial industry with his own force of armed henchmen seemingly ready to fight private wars for him, and as a flaky "mad genius" type, even though he didn't seem to do any of his own scientific investigation. Both of those are clichés that, as e.e. cummings said, are "emphatically not to be resharpened." And I really don't think they go well together as a character concept.

I also have to say that when I watched the combat and action scenes—and this movie was clearly centered on those scenes—I didn't feel "Wow, these characters are awe-inspiringly good in a fight." What I was thinking was "Wow, the choreographer is really on their side!" This was way ahead of the murky combat scenes in Dawn of Justice, which had both C and me sitting in the theater wondering how long they'd go on, but it still didn't give me a sense of impressive combat skills.

Beyond that, the characterization and motivation just didn't seem very deep. I didn't have much sense of what was driving anyone, and that made the fight scenes even less compelling, as I need to get into the heads of the combatants for those to hold my attention. The motivation really seemed shallow. And when the characters made difficult choices at key moments, and theoretically struggled with themselves, I could see that they were coming, because the plot required them, but I didn't get the sense that the characters' own motives required them; they seemed to be the hand of the chess player shoving the pieces around. This was particularly strong for the newly recruited member of the group.

So I found this tolerable as something to watch once, and at least basically coherent, but much too shallow to suit me.