Greek myth and modern morals make for an ‘X-Men’ with soul
Charlize Theron’s benevolent immortals take up arms in a cross between ‘Rambo’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
“I intend to live forever, or die trying,” Groucho Marx supposedly once said. That’s more or less the guiding philosophy of The Old Guard, the seemingly indestructible squad of mercenaries battling their way down the epochs in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s sleekly enjoyable new film.
“So are you good guys or bad guys?” asks Nile (KiKi Layne), a US Marine and the team’s newest reluctant recruit. “Depends on the century,” shrugs Joe (Marwan Kenzari), who joined the gang during the Crusades. The Old Guard’s members don’t have much in common, but they all share an ultra-rare genetic mutation which confers immortality of a sort. For one thing, it means they don’t age. For another, it makes them near-impossible to kill: their bodies spit bullets back out like cherry seeds, while wounds that should be fatal zip themselves up in seconds.
Their leader is Andromache of Scythia (Charlize Theron), of mythological fame, but these days she goes by Andy and has swapped her Trojan battle garb for a black T-shirt and skinny jeans. With more life than she knows what to do with and nothing obvious to live for — she forgot the faces of her mother and sisters centuries ago — Andy has set herself an ongoing mission: to travel the globe and find others like her, who can help nudge the course of human history down a better path, as they see it. In short, think Rambo crossed with It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s all about making whatever difference you can just by being there, ideally with a machine gun in hand...