The Guard Directed by: John Michael McDonagh Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 12, 2011
PLOT: A local Western Irish cop (Gleeson) has one foot out the door of his job, when drug smugglers come to town. Top FBI agent (Cheadle) is forced to be his partner, and the two must find some way of cooperating together to make things work.
WHO'S IT FOR? Gleeson fans will love the chance to see him in the lead. It's a drama/comedy with most of the laughs coming from playing it straight.
EXPECTATIONS: I caught a glimpse of the trailer and was surprised to see Cheadle. Also, a critic friend told me it was funny, which I didn't expect.
Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle: He's a man who almost doesn't care, plus he's juggling his job and his dying mother. Again, Gerry would really rather not care. The opening scene encapsulates this great as he watches a car go speeding by only to look slightly annoyed when it crashes. He's sarcastic toward almost everyone except hookers, and then he's happy and sweet. This is the type of actor we rarely get to see in the lead and he's a hell of a presence on screen. Score: 8
Don Cheadle as FBI agent Wendell Everett: Again, it's surprising to see Cheadle in this film. No. Not because he's black. I can't believe you were thinking that. Though that would be a joke Gerry would make. It's just that Cheadle is a big name, but he blends right in. Watching him deal with the racist questions Gerry throws his way is a treat. Score: 7
Mark Strong as Clive Cornell: Strong is a bad man. The movies (Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood) have told us so. Even though he's not the leader of the drug cartel, he's the one who makes himself most known. Score: 7
David Wilmot ... Liam O'Leary : Score: Liam Cunningham ... Francis Sheehy
TALKING: You will have to strain to understand the dialogue from time to time. It's not as bad as Layer Cake (which I love), but watching this film with subtitles would have meant I'd pick up on 100 percent of the jokes instead of 88 percent (yes, that's the exact percentage). The racist, foolish, humorous banter is totally allowed because there is that fine line of not knowing if these people know any better. Gerry's sarcasm shows up early when he tells his new partner he's a clairvoyant. From that point on, we think we know Gerry. Score: 7
SIGHTS: I wasn't thrilled with the print quality. It felt raw for no good reason. The blue tint is a good affect for added gloom, then again that could just be how Western Ireland looks. Score: 6
SOUNDS: The musical score starts off great with something like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly mixed with a little '70s funk. I was hoping to feel like dancing a jig with some local songs but we only get a tiny taste at a pub. "Off the Tallahatche Bridge" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" are used very well here. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: They wouldn't leave him alone. He wanted to ignore the drugs and just move on. Then Liam (David Wilmot) shows up and forces Gerry's hand (and makes him adjust his pants).
ENDING: It's a small scale, good action sequence with each character given a solid goodbye. Actually, after getting just a tad mundane, the film ended really strong.
QUESTIONS: I don't know drug trafficking, but no matter what the amount of money, it seemed like there weren't enough bad guys working the deal, right? Also, Gerry's mom just died, right? It happened so quickly that I thought Gerry might have played a hand in that.
REWATCHABILITY: This is one of those cases where I enjoyed it but don't crave a second viewing. Once is enough in a good way.
The Guard wants to tell you a story with slightly complicated characters. That's what type of movie it is, besides being a crime drama comedy.
It's a nice shift from some of the summer blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides or Cowboys & Aliens who seem to be saying, "I want to show you something." It's the difference between show and tell I guess.
Every character is given a moment to shine, even though shining in this case is typically saying something rude. At the center of this rudeness is Gleeson. Somehow he gets away with speaking to everyone like he doesn't give a crap, which makes you care. Wendell says it best about Gerry, "I don't know if you're really stupid or really smart." It's really fun to watch people try and figure it out.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10