There’s a certain type of humanity that Gina Prince-Bythewood imbues in all her films, whether it’s a cult classic like Love & Basketball (2000) or romantic drama à la Beyond The Lights (2014). It makes sense then, that her direction of comic book blockbuster The Old Guard leads to one of the most human portrayals of inhuman characters – immortals – that you could get. Based on Greg Rucka’s graphic novel of the same name, it could be argued the rich source material and centuries-spanning mythology would have made more sense as a television series. However, what we get instead is a tight two hours of Charlize Theron wielding a remodeled Amazonian axe (hell yes) and a supporting cast comprised of world cinema superstars like Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Van Veronica Ngo and If Beale Street Could Talk’s KiKi Layne (to repeat: hell yes). Sold as an action movie, The Old Guard is more of a melancholy reflection on what it means to be alive. It’s important to note that with it, Prince-Bythewood joins rarified company: she’s the first black woman ever to direct a comic book blockbuster and only the third woman of colour, along with Cathy Yan – Birds Of Prey (2020) – and Lexi Alexander – Punisher: War Zone (2008).
– Maria Lewis, Writer & Editor, ACMI
Watch The Old Guard on Netflix.
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