The Guard


The Guard Review

Writer-director McDonagh brings to this film the same blend of black comedy, dark emotion and grisly violence as his brother Martin's gem In Bruges. And it's also another terrific character for Gleeson.

Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is an unpredictable policeman in a small Irish town. When a local murder is linked to an international drug-smuggling case, he's assigned to work with FBI Agent Everett (Cheadle), who like everyone else can't quite figure out if Boyle's a genius or an idiot. As they track down three notorious traffickers (Cunningham, Strong and Wilmot), the case gets increasingly complicated. But Boyle doesn't let it affect his private obsessions with hookers and drugs. More troublesome is his ill mum (Flanagan) and a young Croatian woman (Cas) whose husband is missing.

Despite the gritty subject matter, the film has a boldly comical attitude that sits as a prickly counterpoint to the vicious bloodshed and serious drama.

Everything is underscored with a colourful sense of irony. And the dialog is a hilarious barrage of banter as the characters continually test each other, trying to find the breaking point or provoking a specific reaction that rarely comes. These are vividly cantankerous people, and it's great fun to watch them interact.

It also helps that the cast is so sharp, anchored by the superb Gleeson, who can somehow still be loveable as an anarchic, vice-ridden slacker. But Boyle isn't a Bad Lieutenant kind of cop; Gleeson subtly shows us that he's more caring and on-the-ball than everyone around him. The pairing of Gleeson with Cheadle works brilliantly, as their brittle-dry humour bounces hilariously off each other. And Strong is one of the funniest movie grumps ever.

While playing with cop cliches, McDonagh carefully gives each character a bundle of distinct quirks while hinting at back-stories that we never quite get to see. As a result, we're gripped by every scene, wondering what we'll learn next about these people. In this sense - and because we're a step ahead of everyone - the rather uneven central plot is irrelevant. But the riotous blend of absurdity, violence and emotion keeps us thoroughly entertained right to the intensely clever ending.

The Guard

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 7th July 2011

Box Office USA: $5.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $5.4M

Budget: $6M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: UK Film Council, Reprisal Films, Aegis Film Fund, Bord Scannan na hEireann / Irish Film Board

Reviews 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 116 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Flora Fernandez-Marengo, , Andrew Lowe

Starring: as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, as FBI agent Wendell Everett, as Francis Sheehy, as Clive Cornell, Katarina Cas as Gabriela McBride, as Liam O'Leary, as Garda Aidan McBride, as Photographer, as Aoife O'Carroll, as Sinead Mulligan, as Eileen Boyle, as Garda Inspector Gerry Stanton