Monday, January 16, 2012

The Guard

"The Guard" is the first major film from young writer/director John Michael McDonagh. The style of the film was very similar to "In Bruge", another film from Brendan Gleeson in how the cinematography is so very captivating and inviting that it almost serves as a travel log to entice the audience to visit Western Island. This is likely not a coincidence as "In Bruge" was written/directed by John Michael McDonagh's brother Martin.

"The Guard" is a fun and lighthearted crime thriller about an unorthodox Irish policeman, Sergeant Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), with a confrontational personality who is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent, Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring lead by Clive (Mark Strong) and Francis (Liam Cunningham). The banter between Sergeant Boyle and Wendell Everett, which can be seen in the trailer below, is one of the best parts of the film. The two of them really carried the film in a way reminiscent of other buddy cop films. The best being the explanation that racism is part of the Irish culture and trying to understand if it is skiing or swimming that black people cannot do. The innocence in the performance from Brendan Gleeson makes the relationship between the two characters more believable.

In an interview John Michael McDonagh claimed that the script was written in 13 days, which could explain why with the exception of Sergeant Gerry Boyle, none have substance or depth. The secondary stories involving Gabriela McBride (Katarina Cas) as the surviving spouse of Garda Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan) was lacking the proper development. The same can be said about the inclusion of the Sergeant Boyle's mother (Fionnula Flanagan), which is only intended to show that the Sergeant Boyle has a softer side.

I wish that the drug smuggling group was reduced to just one individual, which would have allowed for Mark Strong to carry his part of the villain role further. He plays the villain well as was seen in "Green Lantern" as well as his raw acting skill from "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". He had a busy year, and we can only hope that 2012 will continue to shine for him.

The film isn't going to blow you away with any illusion of a great script, but for a fun film with solid actors that make up for what the script lacks it is worth seeing. Taking a little time to adjust to the thick accents will make for a DVD viewing to be more appreciated. This is every bit a 4 Quack film as any other this year and is worth finding on a DVD this weekend.

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