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THE GUARDIAN, 2006
Movie Reviews!

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THE GUARDIAN, 2006 MOVIETHE GUARDIAN, 2006
Movie Reviews

Director: Andrew Davis

Starring: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Sela Ward, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown, Omari Hardwick, Alex Daniels

Review by Matthew Toffolo

SYNOPSIS:

The US Coast Guard version of "Top Gun" with a little "An Officer and A Gentleman" thrown in: an aging USCG rescue swimmer's team is killed in a horrific rescue mission. Immediately prior to this terrible event, his wife also announced that she cannot take anymore. His first love is always the rescue mission. This leaves him an obviously emotional wreck. His commender gives him a choice - quit or take a position as an instructor at the USCG training facility in Louisiana. Reluctantly he takes the position. Moving into the school, he immediately increases the 18 week curriculum that routinely fails half of the people that attend. Here he meets a young man with unlimited potential, but with some secret that seems to hold him back as a team player. Delving into his past, links are found that make him a psychic twin to the older man. Thrown into the midst of the story is a romance with a local girl...

REVIEW:

This is one of those films that could of been very good if it was the 100 minute drama it was supposed to be. But for some reason this film lands almost in the 150 minute mark. Two and a half hours to tell a mentor/protege relationship in the coast guard. The writer and filmmaking team treated this film like an epic, while they needed to tell a yarn that it is that serves as motivational escapism for movie audiences.

There common storytelling tool of combining scenes to tell two or more points in the overall story arc. This is usually what you do in the 3rd or 4th draft of your screenplay. Trim down your scenes and combine 2 or 3 or them into just one. The Guardian needed this lesson because each scene really only has just one point to it. And when that happens, you tend to lose the emotion of the characters you're following and begin to look at your watch because things begin to drag. In the first act we have Kevin Costner as the aging coast guard who is a poster child for heroism as this is a man who can save lives.

Unfortunately for him there is a lot of irony to that because he's really having a hard time keeping his own life alive. His wife leaves him, perhaps about 15 years too late, and his life is really only one thing: the coast guard. Then his best friend dies too. So he's off to become a trainer for the up and coming coast guards and perhaps by helping these young men, he'll help himself too. Moments in stories we've seen time and time again. But that's okay if it's done well. For some reason these story points are told in 35 minutes when they easily could of been told in about 10-15 minutes. We witness him going on two rescue missions, when we really only needed one (could of saved the film's budget a lot too!).

Before we watch THE GUARDIAN, we've all looked at the poster of the movie, most of us have read the synopsis and/or watched the movie trailer, so we know the story. So 35 minutes are basically wasted until we get to the movie we thought we were seeing. Then there is the switchero of main characters. For the first half of the film, we're following Kevin Costner all the time. We see what he sees and therefore go through his emotional journey. Then they switch to following Ashton Kutcher's character. The hot shot swimmer who is probably the younger version of what Kevin Costner was (but not in real life - I don't think Ashton will be directing Oscar winning films anytime soon!).

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This is a great concept to pull the switch, but very hard to execute. What happens is that you are following this guy for so long, you feel really invested into his future. Then we end of following the younger guy and I was left a bit bummed out. But perhaps that's just me.

I am a tad biased when it comes to Mr. Demi Moore. I've never met the man personally, so I can't really judge him, but he's just not a leading man and The Guardian proves that. Kutcher seems to suffer from light-weight-itis. He's not someone men want to be. And I think women would like to sleep with him, but I don't think they want him to be his boyfriend for very long. He seems to lack that mixture of toughness and tenderness that countless leading men have had in the past. And Kevin Costner has it, even at 50 years old.

So when the main character switch happens, we're left with this shell of a man. And I only mean on the big screen. Kutcher is a fine actor when he's placed in the right role (think of his goofy performance on That 70s Show), but he can't carry a movie no matter what. Since THE GUARDIAN came out, Hollywood has given Kutcher countless chances to be that leading guy. But he's failed every single time. He's cursed with having leading man looks but looks are obviously not everything.

But it's hard for a guy like Kutcher to be a supporting character who's that good looking. It's like having the best player on your basketball team not be the team's captain. Because he's the best, he generally needs to be the leader. And when he's not, then the team suffers from it because it now lacks an identity. And that's what Kutcher's films are like - they all seem to lack an identity. Watch all of his past films and you'll see that I'm right on this. He's got light-weight-itis! But THE GUARDIAN could of been a contender if they went back and did some re-edits. Make sure Costner is the main character throughout and cut about 30 minutes of unneeded footage from the film. Less is more and THE GUARDIAN is a great lesson in that.

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THE GUARDIAN