Netflix's weak 2020 (with the exception of Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods) continues, with the ho-hum action opus The Old Guard.
Directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood, The Old Guard tells the story of a group of immortal warriors (led by Charlize Theron) who travel the world righting various wrongs. They discover a new immortal (Kiki Layne) around the same time that an evil pharma CEO (Harry Melling) dispatches his private army to capture them, so that he can discover the secrets of immortality.
Many action movies rise and fall with the quality of their villains. What would Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy be without the Joker and Bane? What would the first Star Wars trilogy be without Darth Vader and the Emperor? With a group of immortal heroes, The Old Guard needs a formidable villain. A corporate weasel and dozens of faceless mercenaries who are dispatched with little difficulty do not cut it. Watching The Old Guard, you never believe for one second that these bad guys are any match for the heroes. As a result, there's no tension.
While it's easy to understand why Netflix invests in romantic comedies, teen dramas, and Oscar bait, it's a bit more puzzling why they make large-scale action films. They're very expensive to produce, and they're the type of film that most obviously benefits from being seen in an actual movie theater. The Old Guard's action scenes aren't particularly imaginative, but any visceral impact they may have had is blunted by being watched in a living room.