By Gary Murray
Starring Brendan Gleason, Don Cheadle and Liam Cunningham
Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh
Running time 98 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Cable
Over the years, the Irish have made some solid inroads in US art house cinema. There have been some strong films with quirky characters that have recently invaded these shores. The latest is The Guard.
The story of The Guard is the story of Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleason) a small town cop in the little County Galway. When the film first opens, we see him hiding (and using) drug evidence as not to embarrass family members in this tight little community. He’s a guy who lives by his own maverick moral code. Recently he gets a new partner and is showing him the ropes of small town justice.
The locals are drawn into an international investigation when some deaths happen. They all seem to be connected to a giant drug deal going down in the area. FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) is brought into the case. He’s a ‘by the books’ kind of guy who doesn’t take to neither the County Galway people nor Boyle. Everett keeps pushing Boyle to work when Boyle wants to have a little fun with questionable women.
The two men do not see eye-to-eye on any matter, wither it be social situations or police work. The more Boyle reluctantly investigates the crime, the more personal it becomes. When fellow officers are taken down and others found on the take, Boyle finds that the only person he can rely on is Wendell Everett.
The film of The Guard is yet another mismatched cop-buddy flick but with a solid Irish charm. In fact, the most difficult aspect of The Guard is in the accents. The Irish are speaking English but at times it is very hard to understand.
Brendan Gleason is the reason to see this film. He gives a smart, stunning reading to the role. In so many ways, it is like Andy Griffin on the old Mayberry RFD show. He’s the local rube cop who is actually much smarter than he ever lets on. This is guy who just lives by his own rules, never worrying too much about the consequences of his choices, but with enough street smarts to be three steps ahead of his prey.
Don Cheadle is a wonderful actor who is just phoning in his part. He has done this type of role so many times that he can do it in his sleep. At times, if feels as if he is actually doing the role in his sleep. There are few sparks coming from his side of the script reading.
One of the things I loved about The Guard was the production. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh shows Ireland the way one would shoot a love scene. He makes the place look epic and grand, a lush green and blue palate. The dialogue does show signs of zap in a very tired genre. John Michael McDonagh is fairly new to the business and this shows promise for a stunning career.
Even though The Guard is an overdone premise, the film is not a bad little jaunt into a land seldom seen on the screen. It is too bad that the actual plot didn’t hold up to the main character or the sets.