Set in the 21st century, Charlize Theron headlines (and co-produces) this very impressive action, sci-fi bemouth where she plays Andy (a.k.a. Andromache the Scythian), leader of a veteran, warrior group who fight for the good of the human race using their gift of immortality.
Theron owns her “greatest warrior ever” monicker and can easily back it up with her amazing physical abilities. She will even give others a chance to best her by stating what she’s going to do before the action hits. Her awesome battle tactics and visceral, efficient fighting inspire everyone she encounters. A great career choice as she builds and enhances her action genre resume.
An antagonist pharmacy mogul (Harry Melling) has some nefarious plans for Andy and her crew, which include French soldier Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Muslim warrior Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Crusades warrior Nicky.
Kiki Layne also has a prominent role as Nile Freeman, a U.S. Marine serving in Afghanistan as does Chiwetel Ejiofor as former CIA agent James Copley. Ejiofor adds credibility and gravitas to the plot, but Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) simply amazes in every way to increase the heart and realism even more. Her addition into this immortal foray reignites Andy’s motivations as well as her knowledge. Nile doesn’t exactly want to be a sponge after learning about her new situation, but she shares Andy’s goodness and grace.
Other characters include Quynk (Van Veronica Ngo), Dr. Meta Kozak (Anamaria Marinca), and Keane (Joey Ansah).
The original warrior quartet wasn’t always four, so inevitable background and exposition is well handled and doesn’t slow down the story. Relationships among all the characters change and galvanize and also include some surprising romance. The veterans pass on their knowledge well though some question if their long-standing mission is really making a difference in this increasingly negative world – a very timely theme. The stunt team, choreographer Daniel Fernandez, and cast get a lot of credit too for the endless and well-choreographed action.
Greg Rucka adapts the two-hour and five-minute screenplay based on his graphic novel of the same name with visual art by Leandro Fernandez. The plot has some good surprises and other inventive elements to hold audience interest in Andy’s situation as her deep character develops even more. Filmmakers use a flash-forward sequence to establish the film’s main concept then populate the plot with exposition flashbacks that bolster this action film even more.
The big concepts come across well in direct dialogue and simple scenarios and filmmakers take advantage of connecting the locations with the rich history of the characters. For example, a sequence at a pub near the end of the film is filmed at the famous Prospect of Whitby (a.k.a. the Devil’s Tavern) that dates back to 1520.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood deserves immense credit for creating a successful film that was very different from her previous work in romances/drama like Love and Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees.
The airplane sequence and final climax in a skyscraper are particular standouts. The logistics are well done (stay out of the public light as much as possible, etc.) though a key betrayal can have been easily avoided by changing long-standing routines.
Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran create the musical score and previously combined forces on the musical score for the 2016 film Lion. Decent work that has it’s moments, but it’s not that memorable overall.
Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated R for sequences of graphic violence, and language. Look for a likely sequel in the future.