Starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle
Directed by John Michael McDonagh
Rated R for some violence, language, drugs and sexual content
When a drug-smuggling ring begins operating in a small Irish town, an FBI agent (Cheadle) and an unorthodox Irish cop (Gleeson) have to team up in order to bring them down.
It’s hard to imagine an original cop buddy movie. Even though there have been some good ones with some darn good scripts, the basic premise is typically the same. The story usually takes place when a serious cop gets teamed with one that is usually his polar opposite. Recent examples are Lethal Weapon, Black Rain, Hot Fuzz and The Other Guys. But just because it’s been done many times before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done again with a new twist. And thus we get The Guard: a film that doesn’t break new ground, but offers up a nice variation on the theme.
While Brendan Gleeson is certainly not a household name, he has played major roles in some very popular films including the Harry Potter movies, Braveheart, Troy, and several others. Back in 2008 we got to see him brilliantly carry a film in In Bruges with costar Colin Ferrell. There aren’t a whole lot of leading roles out there for guys that look like a 56-year-old version of me. So there should be no wonder why I like the guy and want to see him do well. As for Cheadle, he’s truly the polar opposite of Gleeson and fits the buddy formula well. Together, they make an odd team, which is what I think the film was going for. This film was never meant to be a Lethal Weapon. Rather than relying on big set pieces and action sequences, the movie rests its head on character development. They want you to know all about Gleeson and what makes him so peculiar. What you learn about Cheadle is through Gleeson’s eyes. There isn’t a lot of good chemistry here, but since that is on purpose, the performances work.
Where the film falls behind is its underproduced look and feel. The print looks as grey as an average Irish day and there isn’t much in the way of music or effects. The direction proves to be a little slow, relying more on the script and the two leading actors to move everything along. If it had been more polished, it would been a much more enjoyable film to look at, but I have a feeling that the spirit of the thing might have been left behind in its wake.
One thing that surprises me is how it is being classified as a comedy. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good chuckles, but this is much more of a character study than a laugh riot. And while it won’t blow your mind, it does serve as a nice diversion. B