The Guard Review
96 minutes, 2011
Rated R for pervasive language, some violence, drug material, and sexual content
The Guard is a film starring Brenden Gleason and Don Cheadle that was directed by John Michael McDonagh. It is about a corrupt Irish policeman (Gleason) who teams up with an FBI agent (Cheadle) to solve a murder. I really do not have a lot to say about this film because there isn't a lot to discuss. The film suffers from a lack of a build-up to the climax, boring spots, and a serious lack of originality. However, it does benefit from fantastic performances, good attention to detail, and some great jokes.
First off, the highlight of this film is watching Gleason and Cheadle at work. These two actors who are completely different work marvelously together and have great chemistry. Each one of them brings their own unique set of skills to the table, Gleason's charm and knack for comedy and Cheadle's likablity and noble presence. Gleason, however, is best actor in this film as he is as foul-mouthed as he is strangely likable. He delivers the jokes with perfect timing and is always up to something bad such as taking acid from a murder victim on the job. This is where McDonagh's clever details kick in. In the scene where Gleason takes acid, a little smiley face flashes across the screen as it starts to kick in. Certain details like that and witty comments are what the film coasts upon and are what make it enjoyable.
However much wit and charm The Guard has, it still lacks originality. This film is very similar to every other fish-out-of-water or buddy cop movie that has ever been made. Yes, some have made great original additions to each of these genres, The Guard fails to do so. Also, the film has some moments where nothing happens. I do realize that McDonagh was aiming for a low-key, dryly funny film, but it sometimes tries too hard for that and that ends up bogging it down. Finally, due to the lack of interest in some parts, the main story gets lost in the mix. This doesn't help especially when the climax comes out of left field. Due to the lost and slowly-moving story, the climax doesn't come after a build-up which makes the pacing uneven.
Overall, The Guard is a perfectly entertaining film that is nice to see if you want a laugh on a Saturday afternoon. While I would not highly recommend it to everyone (for the reasons mentioned above, and also the dark sense of humor could be off-putting), it is still a nice way to pass time and watch two amazing actors work off of each other. If you want a better film with the same sense of humor, watch In Bruges which was directed by John Michael McDonagh's brother, Martin and also stars Brenden Gleason.