Another popular movie running on Netflix. This is a fairly-run-of-the-mill ‘killer seeks redemption kind of a story starring Chris Hemsworth (y’know … the Mighty Thor) as a mercenary trying to save the kidnapped son of a drug lord.
There’s nothing here that really sets it apart from other movies with morally ambiguous action heroes, but I did like it: the film has heart, as well as some of the most devastating action sequences I’ve ever seen (yes, even better The Old Guard from a few days back). Hemsworth manages to deliver a surprisingly sophisticated air of hard-bitten vulnerability, and his young charge (ably played by Rudhraksh Jaiswal) convincingly takes apart the soldier’s emotional armour and finds the makings of a hero inside. Pretty good stuff, actually.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is Netflix’s most watched movie at the moment, and since I had a spare afternoon (one of many) I thought it was worth a look.
Okay, to begin with, the plot isn’t really much to write home about: The Old Guard is a group of immortal mercenaries (ably led by Charlize Theron) with a conveniently flexible set of moral values which has steered them to champion the downtrodden and oppressed for the past several thousand years, while presumably making a ton of cash on the side.
Through a series of flashbacks and moody chats around the campfire, the story tells us who they are and why they’ve been targeted by a pharmaceutical wunderkind who wants to carve them into slivers so he can unlock secret behind their immortality.
I started reading this book last night. When I finished the last page, I got out of bed, made breakfast, then stood in front of the bifolds looking out at the garden while drinking coffee. I watched a magpie watching me, and thought that as long as there are Danes, there maybe hope for the human race after all.
It was 4am, so I was probably a bit more emotional than I usually am.
Now I don’t read a lot of YA fiction. I think the last one was Predator’s Gold from the Mortal Engines series. But I actually made the effort to track this one one down after my much better half (she’s a huge Toksvig fan) played me an interview where Toksvig talked about her family’s involvement in a nationwide plan to the evacuate Danish Jews (or as the Danes liked to call them, Danes) from the occupied Denmark. Toksvig had written a short story about it. I’ve got more than a passing interest in the exploits of Scandinavia during the war. In fact, I thought their sacrifice and bravery has never received the recognition it deserved, so I wrote a book about it. I wrote about Norway, but it could just have easily been Denmark.
I didn’t find Toksvig’s short story, but I did find this book, and as you may have already guessed, I think it’s certainly the best YA novel I’ve ever read.
There were 8000 Jews living in Denmark when the Nazis invaded (April 1940). The country was small, and ill-equipped to fight, and so submitted in pretty short order. In fact, the term Hitler’s Canary was coined by the British press, as they now viewed Denmark as a caged bird, singing for the Nazis. Unsurprisingly, as with most things regarding the British press, nothing could be further from the truth.