Review: The Guard

Brendon Gleeson in The Guard

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

John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard opens with teenagers drinking. driving, then ending up as another road statistic when their car crashes. 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 The Guard is just good. As much as I like it’s brand of comedy, it doesn’t quite execute it with aplomb.

It’s a 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. 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 but watchable character.

At times The Guard is a witty deconstruction of the American buddy cop movie with its unlikely match-up; s trans-Atlantic culture clash as well as poking the genre’s tropes.  There’s an affecting emotional core in 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 (led by Mark Strong) who, while funny, are also fairly inept. That’s part of the joke but where’s the challenge when it comes to solving the crime? The best jokes are the ones revealed at the last moment; 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 too many times.



Posted on 09/02/2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hmm interesting review, got this to watch this weekend! Hope it’s better than In Bruges which left me a bit disappointed.

    • I enjoyed In Bruges a bit more than this film but I think it’s the type of film people will love and some will like with a few reservations. I think the hype might play a small part in shaping peoples’ reactions. Definitely worth seeing.

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