Entertainment Magazine

At Home: The Guard

Posted on the 09 February 2012 by Desertofreel @Kob_Monney

Brendon Gleeson in The Guard

I’m Irish. Racism is part of my culture.

John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard opens with teenagers drinking and driving, ending up as another road statistic when they crash their car killing all onboard. When Sergeant Gerry Broyle (Brendan Gleeson) casually walks up to the overturned car, pauses to survey the scene before rifling through a dead kid’s pockets for drugs exclaiming “what a beautiful fucking day”, you know you’re in for an unorthodox film.

So it’s with some disappointment that despite the fantastic notices this film has been receiving on both sides of the Atlantic, The Guard is a good, almost-nearly-not-quite-great film that as much as I may like it’s brand of comedy, is a little lightweight.

It’s a strange, deranged film about Gleeson’s Broyle who teams up with Don Cheadle’s FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. Broyle is a man of many contradictions, tastes and talents making for a character that’s hard to decipher (for both the characters and the viewer). When Cheadle’s Wendell Everett says he has no idea if he’s clever or just plain dumb, you’re right there with him. Gleeson is terrific, wide-eyed and inquisitive as well as sardonic and ignorant, creating a divisive character that’s very watchable.

At times The Guard is a witty deconstruction of the American buddy cop movie with its unlikely match-up, trans-Atlantic culture clash and poking of the genre’s tropes.  There’s an affecting emotional apex to the film in the form of Gerry’s relationship with his mum (Fionnula Flanagan) that’s (purposefully?) a little out of place by being so sweet. However, despite the humorous stereotyping and memorable lines of dialogue the film tries too hard in places to elicit laughs, exemplified by the appearance of the drug smugglers (insouciantly led by Mark Strong) who, while funny, are also fairly inept (that’s part of the joke but where’s the challenge in solving the crime?). The best jokes in the film are the ones revealed at the last moment (like a scene at a diner); The Guard has a tendency to lay its cards on the table too early and then ramble about how good its hand is.

Regardless, The Guard is indecent and proud of it, wearing its un-PC dialogue as a badge of honour connecting it to the other McDonaugh brother Martin’s In Bruges.  It’s brilliant in mining for depraved laughs but it perhaps tries to force the issue a few too many times.



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