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Artist, Heather Oliver             

Muskets and Double Axes

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

I saw two very different movies recently. One was the filmed version of Hamilton; the other was The Old Guard, a twist on the immortal superhero ever-plowable vein.

Hamilton is awash in energy, talent, and witty, singable passages. I recognized several cast members, whom I’d first seen in other endeavors (primary among them Renée Elise Goldsberry, a fiery Quellcrist Falconer in Altered Carbon). The attempt at recasting history is far less successful, because the immigrant angle doesn’t graft seamlessly on this portion of the US origin myth.

The Old Guard features several glittering names in its cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor. The revisionary revisiting of what it would actually mean to be Logan/Wolverine (or Duncan McLeod, aka the Highlander) is engaging both intellectually and emotionally, and Theron’s “Andromache the Scythian” character emits strong Xena vibes. The trope is trodden and worn, but director Gina Prince-Bythewood added depth and nuance to the customary angst and balletic violence, while avoiding the lone Smurfette syndrome along several dimensions. I detect the beginning of a franchise — not left in much doubt by the cliffhanger ending.

Image: Gina Prince-Bythewood

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