The Old Guard

Based on the 5-part graphic novel series of the same name, this movie is a faithful adaptation. In no small part due to the fact that the screenplay is by the same author/creator of the graphic novel series. It is about a group of humans, mercenaries and fighters, that happen to be immortal. They get hired for a mission and everything goes sideways. To say more, would be to spoil what little hidden secrets the movie contains beyond the incredible action sequences.

I was looking forward to this movie for some time after having been made aware of it several months ago. After reading an interview with the lead actor, Charlize Theron, about how reading the source graphic novels resonated with her about her character, I took to reading them too. It’s a world shown without being overtly told how it works. Which is why I enjoyed the movie more; Greg Rucka took his story and added more, explained away some of the mystery and managed to add in a sequel. The source did not, it ended nicely. This added touch allows for the possibility of a franchise. And I, for one, welcome it.

Getting down to the gritty of it, the acting was superb and I especially enjoyed the deliverance of that speech lifted directly from source, by Marwan Kenzari. You’ll know it when you see it. The chemistry between his character and that of Luca Marinelli’s character comes through elegantly and beautifully. Everyone did an amazing job with their characters, breathing life into them. Making them feel real, and a bit more than some of their 2D aspects; they feel fleshed out.

Overall, I loved this movie. I loved the scenery and cinematography, Morocco was used as different locations around the world. And filmed in the UK as well. It was fun to watch, I didn’t really have to think too hard about it. “That way leads to madness” as a character says. The action was clear, and concise. An appropriate level of brutality, and thankfully not as sadistic as parts of the source graphic novel were. I definitely recommend this movie on a Friday night. Hits all the right notes and comes in just around the 2-hour mark in length.


Joker – A tour de force of acting by Joaquin Phoenix

As I watched the credits roll on Joker, I felt as if the message of the movie would be twisted by those who think the story is about them. Some call them “incels”, but ultimately, they are self-deluded individuals who, more often than not, share traits with those that suffer from mental illness. I saw the message of this movie as those that suffer from mental illness are abandoned by society, and left to fend for themselves. And when they find they cannot, they break. They become a shell of who they were. Not all do. Some are strong enough to overcome their demons, or at the very least, manage their demons.

Arthur Fleck is a man molded by not society, though it certainly plays a role, but by the actions of the few. These few share in his same pain, they share the fact they have mental illness. It’s a cycle. Much akin to the cycle of poverty vs the rich. It’s a war fought vicariously that benefits only those at the very top. Society is an engine used and tuned by those in control. It runs to their machinations, to their design, and we are enslaved to it. Should we find ourselves outside the engine that is society, we find ourselves cast out and abandoned.

But, this is a story about Joker. About Batman’s nemesis. And to that end, the movie absolutely excels and nails his character. As a villain of the comic book world, he translates perfectly on screen in this one shot as a burgeoning criminal whose acts of violence propagate as symbols in the war against the rich. He becomes an idea. Remind me again who adopts a symbol to become an idea… Oh yea, a guy in a bat costume.

Joaquin Phoenix’s acting here was phenomenal. His mannerism and ticks brought to life the character of the Joker. His laugh perfectly capturing both laughter and pain at once. It’s maniacal. His dancing is a man at joy and happy in his own way, but it comes off as uncomfortable to watch. Like you can feel that there is something wrong with this man. It helps that Joaquin lost weight and his own body helped his performance, often appearing grotesque.

The violence itself wasn’t too strong. You felt it coming. It equated to the anger his character felt, and often matched it. It left you reeling but at the same time, it left you understanding why. It was horrible to watch, as it should be, but it was done with purpose. I didn’t feel as if any scene was done just because. Every act pushed the story forward and took Joker further into becoming the psychopath we recognize him as.

As to the movie itself, I feel as if, perhaps, if he was able to be given a voice before his message was twisted by the media, then he could have turned out different. If he was given a chance to heal, to be helped by those who can, he’d not have ended in a dark place. This is a story about whether the ends justify the means, or do the means justify the end. Did he sow chaos and mayhem because of what happened to him throughout his life and so he reacted? Or was he always this way, and what happened was his own response and the media just ran with it to fit a narrative?

This movie holds a powerful message, and it is entirely subjective to the person viewing it. It can be dangerous. But I wish to see more. Not of the Joker, but of DC comics adapted as one shot/one off stories. A singular story with no hint of a sequel. One message. Yet viewed by many different lenses.

I highly recommend this movie.