Movie Review – The Guard (2011)

Directed by: John Michael McDonagh

Starring: Brendon Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan, Rory Keenan, Liam Cunningham, Michael Og Lane

Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is an Irish cop who isn’t intimidated by anyone. When there’s a suspicion of drug smuggling in the area FBI agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) shows up and the two of them end up working together to try and find out the truth behind the mystery of a death, a disappearance and the threat of cocaine being smuggled. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I didn’t know much going in but I saw that the same team of McDonagh and Gleeson have a new movie coming out, Calvary, so I thought I’d give The Guard, their earlier effort, a try. It has a very dry sense of humor and much of what Boyle says is politically incorrect so if you’re not prepared for that it may shock you. I liked the contrast between his character and the very formal presence of Everett. Gleeson and Cheadle played off each other superbly and Gleeson is amazing in this role. He has a gruff exterior with little to no regard for authority or anything that he doesn’t perceive as affecting him. Yet he has a strict moral code and will not hesitate to act if anyone breaks it. 

The humor is subtle but it’s deftly done, from the philosophizing criminals who are searching for meaning in their lives to the young boy who rides along the bogs to find a quiet place to shoot drugs. I liked how there was so much craziness in this town and while Everett looks on, stupefied, Boyle takes it all in his stride and realizes that he can’t change the nature of it so he just has to do what little he can. It actually becomes quite action-packed towards the end and it finishes with a perfect, poetic climax that is subtly foreshadowed. 

This is a pretty short review but it’s definitely worth your time, just be prepared for the wry sense of humour. 


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