The Guard Reviews
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.
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.
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Question: Is there a certain nationality that you feel a kinship with? Maybe it is an American thing that I have a need to ask that or share with you mine, but I feel a strong connection to my Irish heritage. So when I saw the preview a couple of months ago for the Irish indie film The Guard (and even posted the preview on my blog) I knew I had to see it. It finally came out last week.
I walked into the same theatre where I was SUPPOSED to see Another Earth earlier this week. I will admit I was a little nervous, and if you read my blog recently, you'll know why I felt that way when I arrived there this morning. Anyway, Another Earth was already gone. Darn! But The Guard was another film I was happy to see still in at the same cineplex. I decided not to press my luck and sit in the same seat as last time so I chose a different row. (What? Ok, I might be a little superstitious - maybe that's an Irish thing.) The movie began and I slowly started to relax.
Now I am not sure how I can desribe this movie because it's not like many I have seen before. It states above that it is a comedy and a thriller. Sure, I would say that but both genres were there but so subtly written that it is really hard to say that The Guard was a flat-out comedy or an unbelievable thriller. I would say it was more of a black comedy and not "A Raucous Comedy!" as it states on the movie poster behind me. However, the thriller part is something you might not get until the end which is why I really enjoyed this film.
The story is about a small town in Ireland where there is a confrontational and unorthodox Irish policeman (guard) trying to solve a murder. The FBI comes in to help with the situation and up the ante with the murder with a huge drug deal possibly surrounding the murder. You know, somehow they are...connected!
Brendan Gleeson plays the main guard and I bet you know who he is just by the list a few of the films he has been in: 28 Days Later, Braveheart, Cold Mountain, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (he is Mad-Eye Moody). Anyway, I have always enjoyed his performances but he is hardly the lead role so this was a nice change. And what a character he played. He's a single man, a cop but likes to ignore the law on a few things, etc.. He even uses the favorite curse word that the Irish seem to enjoy a lot (you know which one, right?....oh for f*'s sake - it should be obvious), but when he talks to his mother or a woman he is sweet, gentle and kind.
Now here's a hint at the thriller part of The Guard - or at least that is how I saw it....he was sarcastic - my favorite - but most of time you don't know if he is being sarcastic or not. I had a smile on my face throughout this entire movie because of his character and even a few soft chuckles. Brendan Gleeson is the main reason I enjoyed this film.
Don Cheadle plays the FBI agent sent over to join the investigation and is taken aback with the guard's crass and racist slurs, but he soon realized that he likes him as they work together to solve the crimes. He puts it perfectly when he calls him an unconventional police officer. It was an interesting pairing to see the American federal agent and the small town police officer hunt down the drug smugglers - especially at the end of the film.
There are a couple of others things to mention about The Guard. The criminals, or the drug smugglers, were an interesting trio that when together would go off on odd topics like philosophy. I wish I could remember some of the dialogue but I do recall giggling during their scenes especially when Mark Strong's character would communicate. He had some of the best dialogue.
With all that was in The Guard I think the ending might be why I liked it even more. You will just have to see what I am talking about because I am not going to tell you. Slainte!
My favorite part: The quick Irish wit - that really does put a smile on my face.
My least favorite part: That I wasn't having a pint of Guinness while watching the film but it was only 10am.
Length: 96 minutes
Review: 8 out of 10
In Galway, the west coast of Ireland a seemingly random murder occurs. Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) investigates and soon believes it to be part of a drug-smuggling ring. The case becomes so important that the FBI get involved and send over agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) to mount a large scale operation in bringing the drug ring down. The two law enforcers don't exactly see eye-to-eye and have completely different approaches to their professions but manage to find common ground in working together.
As we are introduced to the character of Sgt. Gerry Boyle, he's just come across a crime scene. He searches through the pockets of a deceased young man and helps himself to a tab of LSD. Within minutes this towering character and his unconventional methods are established. It takes a good actor to pull this off and Gleeson is more than up to the task. It's his solid performance that's at the centre of this off-beat and cynical comedy. Gleeson has become ubiquitous of late, appearing in film's internationally and having already worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg ("A.I. Artificial Intelligence") and Martin Scorsese ("Gangs Of New York"). He has worked with these directors for good reason, as he can seemingly turn his hand to any role. He's not alone here though, fine support is delivered by the always reliable Don Cheadle, who's not afraid to take a step back and allow Gleeson to shine and as the three dangerous, drug-running killers, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot and Mark Strong are given small but memorable roles. It's fun to listen to them discuss philosophy before cold-bloodedly despatching of innocent people. It's the balance of danger and humour that keeps director McDonagh's film fresh and able to play with the usual genre conventions. The laughs are genuine and never forced and the sharp Irish humour that courses through it is hilarious. Toward the end, it threatens to succumb to cliche but still has enough up it's sleeve to leave you contented.
The mismatched buddy-cop movie has been done many times before but this still manages to find some mileage in it. That's thanks to it's balanced approach and contemptuous brand of humour.
Good movie. I expected more but that usually happens when you expect something out of a movie and not all comes true. If you are a fan of In Bruges, Snatch, or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I think you will enjoy this one. It falls just short of that level, but not by much. Gleeson is outstanding and the story is simple enough, yet with plenty of twist, turns and hilarity. The film has lots of oddly humorous moments. None of them are laugh out loud moments but the film has quite a few clever moments--as well as many strange ones. The sum effect is an odd and uneven film but there's enough good to make it worth the while.
Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a small-town Irish cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett to his door.
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Summary: When tightly wound FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) invades an Irish village in pursuit of international drug dealers, wisecracking local copper Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) does his best to annoy the American and get on with his circumscribed life. But soon there's a murder, and Boyle finds himself swept up in detective work way beyond his pay grade. John Michael McDonagh directs this action-filled comedy.
My Thoughts: "What a great film. Smart, funny, great characters, and best of all, great performances by Don Cheadle and especially by Brendan Gleeson. I absolutely loved this movie. Who would have ever guessed the random match of Gleeson and Cheadle would turn out so brilliantly? Best match up I've seen in a long time in a movie. Gleeson's character is rude, inappropriate, offensive, and brilliant. I love his character as Sergeant Gerry Boyle. One of the best films I have seen so far this year. Those who enjoy dark humor comedies and a good laugh, like myself will really enjoy this film."
Essentially this film is just a mash up between In the Heat of the Night with a bit of All in the Family but set in the modern Irish countryside. And, while the film does have a fairly solid police proceduarl type of plot, it's mainly a character study highlighted by the fish out of water pairing between the two lawmen.
Both the procedural elements and the character study material are pretty strong and decently written. Things could have been perhaps a bit tighter, stronger, and clearer in both cases, but compared to most similar stuff that comes out these days, this is a really good piece of work. That's and it's pretty damn funny, too. It is dark humor, and it's off-kilter, but I did laugh a fair number of times, and appreciate the wittiness they filmmakers were going for.
Cheadle may be more well known to most audiences than Gleeson, but Don is actually not the focus here. He's a supporting player. This is basically Gleeson's time to shine in the spotlight, and shine he does. In Bruges made me want to get to know his career more, and this definitely is a stand out role for him. He's just a delight to watch, and his character here is a real fascinating piece of work. He's great, Cheadle is decent enough, and as one of the antagonists, you've got the consummate tough guy Mark Strong doing what typecasting says he does best, He's good of course, but I kinda wanna see him branch out a bit more from time to time.
Featuring some fine location shooting ,good cinematography, and a really eccelctic collection of music (score and soundtrack), there's a lot more to like here than just the writing and acting. The film does end on an odd note, but htat's okay because it's an offbeat kind of film anyways.
All in all, a good film, but I'm not sure if it's quite really good, if not great. Maybe. It's definitely close. I'll just call it a super high B/almost B+ and leave it at that.
While I prefer In Bruges, The Guard shows clearly that talent runs in the veins of this family.