What even is “normal” anymore? For me, the past few months of living in New York City, my days have become a seemingly never-ending cavalcade of pretty much doing the same exact thing every day. So long that this is now normal. I know a lot of people say they forget what day it is – you know, that momentary mental error, then a quick correction – for about four hours on Tuesday of this week I thought it was Monday. Like even to the point where I thought, “Is that right? Yes, that is right, today is Monday.” I was like Dwight in that episode of The Office where Jim convinced him that it was Friday when it was actually Thursday, only there was no Jim to exacerbate this idea. It just happened naturally. It made me actually pause and think, hmmm, this might be a problem.
Movies have been surprisingly resilient so far, which has been nice and in my new normal, but there are still new movies every week. Sure, we aren’t getting the big-budget blockbusters we are used to, but at least we still get something. Who knows how much longer that can last? But it sure seems like quite a while? At least, it certainly feels like Netflix has an infinite number of movies to release. I picture a room the size of the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse filled with stacks and stacks of thumb drives filled with new releases.
But what’s great is, this week’s new release, Gina Prince Bythewood’s The Old Guard actually has that summer feel to it. That certain something that at least made me feel like, oh, this is the kind of movie that would be coming out right now regardless. The movie is good, but that feeling that a big new action movie was coming out in, what’s most likely, the worst July in all of our lives, strangely felt even better. Yes, the world is going to hell, but at least for a couple of hours I get to watch Charlize Theron kill some bad guys. It was cathartic.
Loosely based on a comic of the same name, Theron plays Andy, the leader of a group of (almost) immortal beings, who live a very long time, and spend that time doing very violent good deeds. Andy starts having visions of a U.S. soldier, Nile (KiKi Layne), who will be joining them as an immortal. So Andy sets on a mission to recruit Nile (well, it doesn’t seem like Nile has much of a choice in the matter) and explain to Nile why she didn’t die when she had her throat cut open by an enemy combatant.
While this is all going on, an evil man named Merrick (Harry Melling) has figured out the powers of Andy’s group and wants to siphon some of that off for himself. He’s enlisted a scientist named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to help him, but Copley has his own sympathetic motivation for getting involved in all this. Anyway, whatever! All good fun!
We have heroes with magical powers. We have a bad guy. We have action. We have Charlize Theron fighting her way through countless bad guys. It may be a pretty abnormal summer, but at least this feels like summer. My recommendation is to make a whole thing out of it: fire up some popcorn, order your favorite movie theater candy* (you’ve got a week for these supplies to get to you before this movie comes out), and make a whole thing out of it because this is as close as it’s going to get to a “summer movie” for the considerable future.
(*When quarantine started, I ordered a bunch of movie theater-style candy. The kind that comes in the same style boxes that you find in theaters. I even ordered stuff I don’t really like, like Sno Caps and Mike & Ikes. And what’s weird is, I don’t even really eat them, I just kind of like that they are here.)
My other favorite thing about The Old Guard is, for a movie that features immortal soldiers, it’s a pretty tight script. When we meet Andy’s team, they are already in action and the intricacies of their immortal powers is sprinkled in throughout the movie. This is a movie that screams “there will probably be a lot of exposition” that somehow avoids most of that and doesn’t get bogged down in its own mythology. From the start, we know who the heroes are and what they want and what the villain wants from the heroes. This is all anyone really needs in a summer action movie. So, soak it up while you can, because it’s probably the closest we will all get to that feeling of the “summer movie theater action movie.”
‘The Old Guard’ begins streaming July 10th on Netflix. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.