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The Guard (2011)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 121
Fresh: 115 | Rotten: 6

A violent, crackerjack comedy with a strong Irish flavor and an emminently likable Brendan Gleeson in the main role.


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 2

A violent, crackerjack comedy with a strong Irish flavor and an emminently likable Brendan Gleeson in the main role.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 23,841

My Rating

Movie Info

The Guard is a comedic fish-out-of-water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two policemen must join forces to take on an international drug- smuggling gang - one, an unorthodox Irish policeman and the other, a straitlaced FBI agent. Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleason) is an eccentric small-town cop with a confrontational and crass personality and a subversive sense of humor. A longtime policeman in County Galway, Boyle is a maverick with his own moral


Mystery & Suspense, Comedy

John Michael McDonagh

Jan 3, 2012


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All Critics (121) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (115) | Rotten (6) | DVD (1)

Although The Guard is primarily a language romp, it's also a terrific showcase for veteran pug-faced character actor Brendan Gleeson.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brendan Gleeson is a blooming marvel.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Crisp, acid-tongued and sharply acted, it's the sort of exercise in tangy Celtic cynicism that's become one of the Emerald Isle's most reliable imports.

August 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are few things finer in cinema than Brendan Gleeson's fat, happy face.

August 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

McDonagh's script is agile, darting between the ridiculous, the sage and the surprisingly sentimental. His love of language and the absurd has hints of the wisecracking Quentin Tarantino. But the story is decidedly more rooted in Ireland's loamy turf.

August 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post | Comment (1)
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The Guard" is violent, profane and funny.

August 19, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A laugh-out-loud comedy as hard as "The French Connection," a modern spaghetti Western on the windswept wastes of Ireland."

January 9, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

This film belongs to Gleeson - he seems to have effortlessly conjured up a complex and charismatic mix of world-weariness and caring, all wrapped up in that enigmatic Irish charm.

April 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Screenwize

John Michael McDonagh is having a lot of fun deconstructing the cop procedural in The Guard, because almost nothing goes as planned and everything has a satirical bent. It is a very funny black comedy with a stylish palette.

January 15, 2012 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

An impressive performance by Brendan Gleeson as an eccentric, independent and surly cop in a small Irish seaside town.

January 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Self-conscious gestures in the direction of fish-out-of-water comedies, buddy-cop movies and Westerns don't amount to much in and of themselves, but they tie together as a functional clothesline for character comedy... [Blu-ray]

December 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

The Guard offers an offbeat take on a genre without skimping on the violence or gunplay.

October 18, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Gleeson's enigmatic character: really smart or really dumb?

September 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Despite its flaws it remains entertaining, good for a few laughs.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This impressive directing debut is a well acted, caustically funny Irish thriller, a classic fish out of water comedy

September 26, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

For all of its seeming conventions, this surprisingly plot-heavy character drama is a wonderfully UNconventional cops-and-robbers picture.

September 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

McDonagh's older brother John Michael McDonagh has done him one better with the awesome new The Guard.

September 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Has the promised elements -- though the action isn't very over-the-top -- but it has an inner depth that isn't normally found in films of its supposed type.

September 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The film's more interested in spending quality time with this unlikely pair than solving crimes. Thanks to McDonagh's sparkling script and some charming central performances, you will be too.

September 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

It's not exactly Ireland's answer to Hot Fuzz, [but] the film is a darkly humorous take on the buddy cop genre that fans of the British comedy will enjoy.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source:

The Guard is raw, modest and charming - maybe the only movie possessing all three characteristics.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source:

Writer-director John Michael McDonagh's film plays like a cynical, foul-mouthed version of "In the Heat of the Night."

September 6, 2011 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Amusingly subversive, it's filled with nasty, impudent Irish humor.

September 5, 2011 Full Review Source: SSG Syndicate
SSG Syndicate

The Guard is a vulgar, Irish treat. While many movies recently have ended with contrivance and disappointment, McDonagh's ending is satisfying. And his choice of the last song is ideal. But the dialogue of The Guard still is a puzzlement to me. WTF?

September 5, 2011 Full Review Source:

The Guard is terrific entertainment, and I can't wait to re-watch it on Blu-ray, when I can turn on the subtitles and catch the handful of lines I couldn't locate under those thick brogues.

September 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Funny and entertaining from first moment to last...

September 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for The Guard

Fun while it lasts. Take that with some grains of salt.
November 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

As my many Irish friends will attest, (and be the first to tell you), there's a certain something about the culture - a knowing cynicism wrapped up in a heart as big as the world... a poet's soul wrapped inside the brash exterior. This holds true for this beauty of a film as well.

Writer/director John McDonagh someone to watch after his equally well toned In Bruges, does an Irish Tarantino here with lovely, hilarious dialog and a dark humorous tone, while still showing us a character that you can't help but love, warts and all. In fact, it's these warts that make him all the more human, and in the personage of Brendan Gleason, the character of "the guard" comes off as a big loveable bear.

Opposite this world wise, wise cracking Irish officer is Don Cheadle as an FBI officer who shows up in Ireland following the case of a drug ring and must put up with the antics of Gleason. This oil and water mixture has its comic moments as well - and if we're talking witty send ups, one could argue that McDonagh is not only lampooning buddy films, but the entire premise has echoes of the dynamic of "In The Heat of The Night".

The comedy is often crass, and occasionally acid tongued, but in this instance it all seems natural and not for any cheap laugh. For an example, after a romp with a couple of call girls (dressed up in guard uniform), Gleason starts having an itch down there. When one of the villains asks him about the discomfort, Gleason tell the man that he perhaps had a tad too much fun with the lasses from Dublin. The villain replies "Dublin, well then ye got what ye deserve". The beauty of this scene also comes from the fact that there seems plenty of time to talk, and yet it all seems so natural that a villain would ask these type of questions while holding Gleason at gunpoint.

In a nutshell, the tone of the film is perfect and true to itself, and once again, a scene from the film personifies not only Gleason's character but the wink in the eye nature of the film itself. At one point Cheadle looks at Gleason and says "I don't know if you are totally brilliant or a total idiot"... Gleason turns and gives the perfect smile - truth, sarcasm and mystery all rolled into one.
January 9, 2013
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Like many others would have done, I bought this film after seeing Martin McDonagh's 'In Bruges', meaning that naturally I would be comparing the two throughout. Unfortunately for John McDonagh, Martin's elder brother, 'The Guard' didn't fare well. In fact, it lacks everything that made 'In Bruges' so excellent; it lacks the pathos, the taut script, the characters and crucially, it completely lacks the humour.

Leading the cast are Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle as two very clich√ (C)d stock characters. Gleeson is the foul-mouthed, maverick guard whilst Cheadle is the officious, straight-laced F.B.I agent ‚" yes I know, how very boring. However, not only is this construct completely trite, it's also very poorly executed. It follows the usual buddy cop formula in a wholly unconvincing way, you don't believe in their relationship at all. The rest of the characters are also completely hollow, unremarkable and never even slightly funny.

I chuckled slightly only a few times, however they were contrived chuckles of desperation rather than genuine outbursts of laughter. I like dark, politically incorrect humour; however it's all rather unsophisticated and adolescent here. This is in stark contrast with 'In Bruges', which continues to make me laugh on every viewing.

The script is messy, dull and consequently rather hard to follow. The film sets up its premise, then a bunch of stuff happens, and then there is a bloody, almost slapstick denouement full of bad sound effects and comedic injuries which are just silly rather than funny.

Not only is this film massively inferior to 'In Bruges', it's also a sorry instalment in the buddy-cop genre which, along with a slew of other turds, helps strip '48-Hrs.' and 'Lethal Weapon' of their originality.
January 4, 2013
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

An FBI agent teams up with a small town Irish policeman to investigate drug traffickers operating out of rural Ireland in this amusing fish out of water buddy cop comedy from the brother of Martin McDonagh who wrote and directed In Bruges. The approach and humour is very similar to his sibling's film, Brendan Gleeson exhibiting the same kind of self deprecating and cynical pragmatism that is common to the Irish mentality. As a thriller, the plot is rather simplistic but it is done with a knowing wit that deconstructs the typical Hollywood action film in a way that's like Guy Ritchie meets Father Ted. Very funny stuff and if you liked In Bruges, you're sure to like this too.
October 17, 2012
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

    1. FBI agent Wendell Everett: You went to Disney World by yourself?
    2. Sergeant Gerry Boyle: Yeah, great gas it was! Had me picture taken with Goofy and everything. He's my favourite, Goofy!
    3. FBI agent Wendell Everett: You know I can't tell if you're really motherfuckin' dumb or really motherfuckin' smart.
    – Submitted by Catherine D (15 months ago)
    1. Francis Sheehy: Let's get the fook outta here Clive!
    2. Clive Cornell: Kidding me? This is better than fucking Christmas!
    – Submitted by Charis Louise G (21 months ago)
    1. Sergeant Gerry Boyle: Now I know what you w'er tinkin'... yer tinkin' those men are armed and dangerous... an' you, bein' an FBI Agent are more used to shooting unarmed women n' children.
    2. FBI agent Wendell Everett: The fuck?!
    – Submitted by Charis Louise G (21 months ago)
    1. Clive Cornell: Where the fuck did you find those men?
    2. Francis Sheehy: Uuuh... I put n' ad. in the paper sayin' 'Henchmen Wanted'.
    – Submitted by Charis Louise G (21 months ago)
    1. Sergeant Gerry Boyle: What a beautiful fuckin' day!
    – Submitted by Hari A (2 years ago)
    1. Sergeant Gerry Boyle: I'm Irish, sir. Racism is part of my culture.
    – Submitted by Tomas K (2 years ago)
View all quotes (18)

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Foreign Titles

  • The Guard - Ein Ire sieht schwarz (DE)
  • L'Irlandais (FR)
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