THE GUARD, 2011
Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, Rory Keenan, Fionnula Flanagan, Dominique McElligott
An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.
“In Bruges” was one of my favorite movies of 2008. So when I saw the trailer for “The Guard” I was really excited. Brendan Gleeson was back, it had the same sleek look, it appeared to be funny yet gritty, and Martin McDonagh returned as the writer and directer...right?...wait...Martin McDonagh didn’t direct this? Who the hell is John Michael McDonagh? It looks like “In Bruges”! How can it look so similar but be directed by a different guy with the same last name? Oh...they’re brothers. That makes sense.
Anyway, “The Guard” is a gritty Irish crime comedy that stars Brendan Gleeson as the small-town Irish cop, Sergeant Gerry Boyle. Boyle is a confrontational, morally ambiguous, and seemingly obtuse person with a dying mother and a fondness for prostitutes. When a murder takes place in his town the FBI sends Wendell Everett for there may be a connection to an international multi-million dollar drug smuggling ploy. Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) is a no-nonsense investigator that is easily annoyed by the attitude of Sergeant Boyle.
As Boyle doesn’t assist Wendell, we see that Boyle isn’t all that he displays. He’s more of a Colombo type. He puts up an idiotic front only to acquire more information from the people around him. I never actually watched Colombo, but I watched a 1:30 clip on youtube. That was my research. Anyway, the investigation continues and Boyle gets more headway with his method than Wendell’s straight-laced approach.
Boyle embraces himself for who he is so much that it’s down right inspiring. He knows he’s flawed and lonely, but he’s so aware of it that he accepts it. He is who he is and he’s totally satisfied with it. The world belongs to Boyle, and he acts as he sees fit. Gleeson is fantastic. I can’t even really recall a roll in which he wasn’t, but this is his very own movie. It is so well written and directed that the film only enhances Gleeson’s performance. His timing is impeccable and his ability to express thought with a glance is remarkable. Don Cheadle is also great, but there are moments when he seems to be struggling to keep up with Gleeson. Cheadle is an amazing actor, and this film is only an example of it, but he’s not the film’s golden goose.
The script is airtight along with its direction. Right when you think you may possibly become bored, the film moves to something as good if not better than what you’ve been watching. The photography is fairly captivating and it keeps it wide so it leaves room for the actors to bounce off each other. This is a tricky move for if there are weaker performances then it’s harder to cut around them. That’s not really a problem for this film. I would say that the strongest element of this film is the actors playing off each other.
If you like banter, then you’re watching the right movie. The dialog is sharp. The thick Irish accents may give you some problems. My obstinate American ears sometimes had trouble translating. This is more of my fallback than the film’s for I sometimes have trouble understanding southerners, the elderly, voice-mails, most women, and small children.
There is one line that bothers me though. Wendell makes a comment about Boyle and he wonders if Boyle is the dumbest person he ever met or the smartest. That’s kind of the theme of the movie. There’s plenty of evidence in the film for you to make your own judgments. You won’t need to hear that out loud...twice. “We need to get off this sinking Titanic or we’re all going to die.” Obvious dialog bothers me because it seems redundant, repetitious, superfluous, verbose, and overdone.
We’re smart folks, we can figure out the subtext. We didn’t need the flashbacks at the end of “Signs.”
Other than that, that’s really my only complaint; one line of dialog. Everything else is charming. The only reason you shouldn’t like this movie is because you don’t like the genre, or the Irish, which I can understand.
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