Holy crap, y'all...I freakin' LOVED this movie. It's everything I ever could've wanted from a summer blockbuster and a romance novel all rolled into one glorious, ass-kicking, bad ass movie. And on the surface, it might not look like a film that screams "romance", but trust me when I say there is something here for ALL viewers, but ESPECIALLY for romance novel fans. Let me demonstrate...
Badass female director
You can just tell when an action movie/summer blockbuster was directed by a man. And I'm not saying that male-directed action movies are bad. I love Marvel movies and (most) Star Wars movies and pretty much all ass-kicking movies. But even in movies I love, there are moments where you just KNOW a man was in charge on set. Stuff like...the camera lingers a little too long on an actress's butt or cleavage (*cough*Black Widow*), or the heroine takes her hair down so that she'll look pretty while she fights (*cough*again*cough*Black Widow*), or she's blatantly used as a vessel for nostalgia and has her power explained away as being part of some man's legacy (*cough*Rey*The Rise of Skywalker*). And my personal fave, sexual innuendo is thrown at the heroine by one of the good guys just to remind the audience of how desirable she is. (No cough on that one--it was Justice League.) None of that crap happened in The Old Guard. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who is the first black woman to direct a superhero comic book adaptation film, gave us tough, smart, gorgeous heroines who were NEVER sexualized to make them more interesting to male audiences. They had agency. They were in control. They were respected leaders. Just like so many heroines you find in romance novels.
Frankly, I'm a little angry that Ms. Prince-Bythewood is the first, because if THIS is the kind of action movie we could've always had if we'd just given female directors more of a chance in Hollywood...well, then we've been SERIOUSLY missing out and I'm pissed about it! Give this woman ALL the movies!! She's a superhero in her own right. (Disney, if you're listening: You desperately NEED this woman. Throw a blank check at her and pray that she's willing to cash it and fix all your bullshit.)
Badass female characters
Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne acted their ASSES off in this movie as Andy and Nile. They were tough but vulnerable, talented and smart, and beautiful without being sexualized by the director to appeal more to the male audience. They OWNED their power. They played delightfully imperfect, multi-dimensional characters that I think every romance reader would adore. THESE are the kinds of heroines that I will never get enough of in romance. (Take notes while you watch this movie, romance authors! Please and thanks. I'll buy whatever you write if you give me more characters like these.)
SERIOUSLY SWOONY ROMANCE
Yes, I used the shout-y caps in that headline. And that's because this scene between Joe and Nicky (the Muslim and Christian warriors who fell in love--and killed each other a few times--during the Crusades) is one of the most swoon-inducing scenes I have EVER seen. The speech Joe gives is the most hardcore romance novel hero shit I have EVER seen and I loved every second of it. If this couple doesn't hit you right in the feels, have your heart checked out, because there might be something wrong in there.
Redeemed villain yummy goodness
The fate of turncoat warrior Booker is still up in the air, but Copely (played by GENIUS actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who I have been obsessed with since Serenity) was a good man who did a terrible thing for all the right reasons. He eventually saw the error of his ways and in the end, was redeemed. There are few things I love more when I'm reading and watching movies than villains who don't have to DIE to earn their redemption. (Side-eyeing you, JJ Abrams, because what you did to Ben Solo was disgraceful. But I digress...) And if that villain is also a super complex character? All the better. Copely was PERFECT redeemed-villain-turned-romantic-hero material.
Non-stop, realistic-looking action scenes
These actors clearly trained for their roles, because the moves in the fight scenes were so brutal and intense and REAL looking that you could almost feel the blood spray from your living room while watching. Fans of romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy will LIVE for the action scenes in this movie.
A happy ending
Contrary to what Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have tried to tell us, a story CAN have a happy ending and still be edgy, intense, and badass. This is an idea I really wish more TV and movie directors would embrace. At least romance authors figured that stuff out DECADES ago.
So, in conclusion...
In case I wasn't clear, you should be watching this movie. In fact, why are you still reading this review? Go watch The Old Guard!!!
And when you're done...
Here's some suggested reading for fans of badass heroines, action-y fight scenes, and swoony romance.