Deftly directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees), The Old Guard is the closest thing we are going to get this summer to the popcorn, movie-going experience. As the current state of the world has all but taken away the chance (for many) to actually go to a movie theater, this tale of immortal warriors protecting planet earth is just about everything we need. At a solid 2 hours and 5 minutes, this action-fantasy film, based on a Greg Rucka's graphic novel, tells a very entertaining story while also giving us a diverse cast of characters. Rich in symbolism, nuance, and strong storytelling, it's not surprising that this film has caught fire with Netflix users the world over.
The big question is what comes next? Well, we obviously all want a sequel to this 21st Century fable but with things opening and closing all over the nation, the question of when we might get a sequel, prequel or otherwise is anybody's guess. The good news is that this isn't something you really have to wait for anymore. Why? Because Netflix has a deep catalogue filled with similar titles to watch if you liked The Old Guard. Enjoy them all!
The Town on Netflix
This tour de force from Ben Affleck sees him co-write, direct and star in this crime-thriller about Charlestown thieves in Boston pulling another job. While this may sound like a straight action film, it is layered with nuance and solid performances from a cast that includes Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively and more. Netflix has solidly positioned this two hour film to seep into the minds of unsuspecting movie-watchers. Affleck, in the starring role of Doug MacRay, is the film's moral compass as he leads a solid group of criminals but really wants to leave that life for something better. Hall's Claire Keesey character represents what could be and we, as viewers, are left in awe of this solid character study of the east coast underworld. Still needing more of The Old Guard juice? The Town will satisfy that in spades.
Extraction on Netflix
Chris Hemsworth is literally all action in this fast paced Netflix original. He plays Tyler Rake, a mercenary who is given the thankless assignment of having to "extract" the son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) of a drug lord. Based on Ande Parks comic "Cuidad", with a script by Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers: Infinity War), Extraction could simply be called "All Action". Literally, from the first to the last frame this film doesn't stop moving. Sure there are moments for character development, but those merely feel like breathers as this film burns through its plot. Directed by Sam Hargrave, this former stuntman turned director shows that he has spent his time on movies such as Avengers: Endgame and Atomic Blonde paying attention. This film also very nicely with Lockdown which is also discussed here!
Salt on Netflix
Angelina Jolie has shown that when she is dialed into an action role she can completely take it over. It's why we remember Mr. & Mrs. Smith and why we don't remember Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Salt sees Jolie tackle a role as a CIA agent that's believed to be a Russian spy. Realizing she needs to go on the run, we see Jolie navigate this mystery-thriller with the help of such strong players as Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofer (his second film on this list). With it's female lead commanding the screen in much the same way as the characters in The Old Guard, Jolie leaves a similar footprint as Charlize in this Philip Noyce (Dead Calm) directed film.
Inside Man on Netflix
Spike Lee's drama, thriller, crime-mystery from 2006 is truly a gem of a film. At over two hours, Inside Man features Denzel Washington at his level best. Surrounded by a cast that includes Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer, William Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, this film is a question mark from the opening frame. The plot is actually fairly straight forward as we see a well crafted heist turn into a bid to release hostages. Much of the film ping-pongs back and forth between the characters (detectives, negotiators, a bank robber), but in the end the answer we get is actually the one that has been in front of our face the entire time. Inside Man could be a Netflix original if the streaming service was making them back in the early part of the 21st Century. The Old Guard works because of the relationships between the characters. Inside Man works because the characters only THINK they have relationships with one another. Also, if you doubt Spike Lee's bonafides as an action director, you're going to be pleasantly surprised to find out that he has another film listed among all of these.
6 Underground on Netflix
Another Netflix original, Ryan Reynolds top-lines this comedy, action thriller that gives us 6 agents who, according to the rest of the world, no longer exist. With their names only being numbers, these elite agents set about trying to save the world from utter annihilation. Directed by none other than Michael Bay (Transformers), this film moves at the speed of light while still giving us some of The Old Guard camaraderie. Netflix must have an algorithm that shows that these are the kinds of films people want to see. Why? Because they sure do crank out a lot of them! Hitching their property to a star (in this case Reynolds), 6 Underground is a non-stop barrage of action sequences with dialogue thrown in to compliment the story structure. Featuring solid turns from Melanie Laurent, Dave Franco, and the rest of the cast, this film is bound to make an impression in your living room!
Close on Netflix
Noomi Rapace shed's some of her Lisbeth Salander persona in this tale of a butt-kicking bodyguard in 2019's Close. Directed by Vicky Jewson, Rapace is assigned to protect Zoe (Sophie Nelisse). Very quickly Rapace realizes that her client has a target on her head and she's got to keep her out of danger and show her how to protect herself. Tapping into the "teaching the kids how to utilize their power" of The Old Guard, Close is also a character study on the female-led action film. Film history is littered with articles about male characters who dominated the silver screen. Close and The Old Guard show that it's about time women are given their proper context in the action genre as well.
Only on Netflix
From director Takashi Doscher, Only is truly a film for these quarantine times. The film follows a couple in quarantine (see what I mean), who find themselves fighting for their very existence when a deadly virus spreads. The virus, released when a comet comes to earth, is very rapidly ridding the world of its female population. Only, slowly but surely, turns into a film about choices. Are these characters going to live in hiding which is really no life (or security) at all, or can they brave the outside world? Thankfully, COVID-19 hasn't reached this point (yet), but, like Only, the film and the 2020 pandemic has allowed us to shine a light on our greater and (sometimes) not so great selves.
Da 5 Bloods on Netflix
Spike Lee's sometimes brilliant, sometimes too long, sometimes perfect, sometimes all over the place Vietnam opus Da 5 Bloods is many things. One thing it is above all else (and this is why it so perfectly dovetails with The Old Guard), is an ode to camaraderie. Da 5 Bloods follows four African American veterans as they return to Vietnam to retrieve what's left of their commander's dead body and a huge amount of gold that they all hid during the war. The film is brutal, dark, funny, and of course, since its got Spike Lee at the helm, a statement on the world today. Sure it meanders in places, but a Spike Lee Joint is ultimately a work of art. Art is rarely perfect and thankfully it doesn't need to be. Kudos to platforms like Netflix for understanding that.
The Lovebirds on Netflix
This love story follows Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) as two people who start off this film agreeing to end their relationship. All of this gets turned upside down when they stumble into a crime caper for which they could do hard time. Now it's up to them to figure out their circumstances, make things right, and then they can go their separate ways. As you can guess nothing is as simple as that. This film has a lot of action but none of it compares to what is choreographed in The Old Guard. The Lovebirds also has a lot of "witty banter" which is probably where it connects with The Old Guard the most. Either way, both films are a lot of fun and if you're in the binging mood, you can certainly find worse ways to eat up close to 4 hours.
Lockout on Netflix
How's this for an out of this world story... a wrongly convicted man (Guy Pearce) gets the opportunity to redeem himself when he's sent on a crazy mission. What is that you may ask? He has to save the President's daughter who is stuck in a prison in space (yes, you've read that correctly) that has been taken over by the people that reside there. Okay, given how much we're talking about defunding prisons and the police, this film might be seen as more timely than anything else. Having said that, Lockout is an action packed film that really plays nicely if you enjoyed The Old Guard. Sure, this idea might seem kinda out there, but isn't that what we expect from our sci-if movies? In fact... isn't it what we expect from our big budget, summer movies like The Old Guard?