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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Guard (2011)


Why can’t more cops be this cool?

An unorthodox Irish policeman named Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. As you could imagine, things don’t gel so well between the two as one’s kind of a dirty, lazy drunk that likes to sit around on his romp while everybody else solves crime, whereas the other one wants to get on the case right away, no frills attached. Not to mention that there’s a bit of a race problem between the two, seeing as how Irish, when they get drunk, well, tend to say some stuff that aren’t always nice.

While I was watching this movie, something really strange happened to me. While watching this movie and found a lot of similarities between this and In Bruges because right from the start, it’s pretty obvious. You get a bunch of lovely accents, Brendan Gleeson acting like a charming fool, dark situations, blood, violence, and they’re all done for laughs.

Another strange happening that occurred to me was the other day before I saw this movie, I was actually checking out the drug-induced trip that was Spun, and thought to myself, “Wow, this director seems like he’s making a music-video. I wonder if he was one of those before this movie? Hmm?” Sure enough, it turned out that the director of that one was, and better yet, that the writer/director of this movie, not only was trying to make a movie like In Bruges, but was also the freakin’ brother of that same writer/director! Goes to show you what I know and it made me feel like I was on-top of the world of with my movie knowledge, that will probably all get thrown-back in my face once I go to the next local Quizzo and fail miserably at the “Movie Round”.

Ladies, eat your hearts out. Or, I guess in this case, drink 'em out.

Ladies, eat your hearts out. Or, I guess in this case, drink ’em out.

Yeah, that’s reality for me, folks, and it’s not something I, nor my parents are too fond of being true.

Damn. What a disappointment I am.

Anyway, similarities aside, the writer/director of THIS movie, John Michael McDonagh still does a great job in his own right and starts us off perfectly with what we’re to expect from the rest of his movie. There’s definitely a very goofy side to this movie that isn’t afraid to show itself, poke a little fun at the whole buddy-cop aspect, and also make a lot of the more serious cliches of a crime movie, seem totally stupid and ridiculous. Like his brother, John Michael seems to be playing around a bit with the conventions we are all so used to seeing from movies of this nature and it kept me on edge wondering where he was going to go next with this story, and what exactly he was going to throw at me next. While making me laugh, I presumed.

That’s why this film’s humor, is so rich in the way it’s delivered. We’ve all seen dark comedy used in crime movies, especially from the likes of Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, and countless others, but this movie really uses the dark comedy aspect to its strength and doesn’t seem forced in the least bit. Rather than giving us an act of violence and trying to make it all light by adding a cheeky line in there, John Michael still uses the same exact formula, but instead, makes it feel deserved and pretty goddamn funny if you ask me. I liked this film’s sense of humor, and it mostly just all felt very Irish to me as everybody is mean, cruel, and pretty damn depressed. That is, until they get a couple of Guinness’ in your systems, and then they’re a bunch of partyin’, happenin’, drunken fools.

Like true and tried Irishmen.

Where I think John Michael screws up a bit with this movie and the tone he’s going for is whenever he decides to get a tad bit more serious on us, and sadly, it doesn’t work. Most writers/directors are able to make the transition from goofy, lighthearted comedy, to straight-up, serious drama, but I don’t think he is one of them. For instance, any time the movie focused on Boyle and the meetings he would have with his, equally-as-cheeky mother who was slowly dying, the film got very dry, very serious, and very boring for me to actually keep my interest. Some people can make this transition work, but if you can’t, it’s just all the more glaring in the end as we never really catch on to any of the actual drama John Michael has in store for us. Instead, we just want the guy to keep on throwing more and more comedy at the wall, without worrying who it does, and doesn’t offend.

You have to ask yourself: Does he play the villain?

You have to ask yourself: Does he play the villain?

However, when it comes right down to it, I cannot, for a second go wrong with an all around solid performance from Mr. Brendan Gleeson himself, who is just a whole bunch of fun to watch as Sgt. Gerry Boyle. Gleeson has always been a guy that’s known for his dramatic-power in big-budget dramas where he usually plays a supporting character, but when it comes to comedies, he’s just as good, if not better just because of this undeniable amount of likability to him that shines through every scene he has here. Right from the start, you know that this cop isn’t going to be your usual, heavy-duty copper that takes everything so seriously. He’s more of a reasonable dude that doesn’t take everything so damn seriously, likes to make sarcastic jokes, and most of all, just likes to have a wee bit of fun for the hell of it. Now why couldn’t someone like him pull me over on the Freeway, Thanksgiving Eve?

Bastards.

And while it does seem weird to see Don Cheadle, of all people, in a very Irish-flick, the point is sort of in that description; he’s meant to be out-of-place and therefore, we draw jokes at him. It’s also a joke that hardly gets old, which mostly has to do with the fact that Cheadle and Gleeson work so well together, they seem like two guys you could really see connect together, given under circumstances of course. But watching as they build some sort of a friendship/connection, is interesting enough and gives more substance to a movie that could have been a down-and-out comedy, with bits and pieces of violence and action sprinkled in.

Consensus: Though the tone can be a bit all-over-the-place at times, the Guard still works because of its goofy sense of humor that, never gets annoying, nor takes away from giving us a lovely chemistry between the unlikely pair that is Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

A black guy and an Irish dude walk into a bar, and they drink. That's it.

A black guy and an Irish dude walk into a bar, and they drink…… That’s it.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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19 responses to “The Guard (2011)

  1. ThoughtsFromTheBooth July 31, 2014 at 4:30 am

    A film that I remember watching and liking but can’t for the life if me remember anything from.

  2. le0pard13 July 31, 2014 at 4:47 am

    I so enjoyed this. Gleeson and Cheadle a wonderful pairing for unique buddy movie.

  3. cisco material July 31, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Thanks for the article, nice one, hope of getting more in future

  4. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop July 31, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I think I liked this slightly more than you but glad you still enjoyed it. I thought it was great fun and the pairing of the two leads is brilliant.

  5. greercn July 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

    It’s one of three films he is making about modern Ireland. Great review!

  6. Brittani July 31, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Great review! I enjoyed this one too, but like you said, there were some parts where the tone shifted so drastically that it got a little slow. Still a good film overall.

  7. keith7198 July 31, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    This is one of the movies that I’ve been meaning to finish. Not sure why I never saw the whole thing. Solid review as always!

  8. ruth July 31, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I LOVE this movie!! It took me a while to finally see it but it was so worth the wait!! The pairing of Gleeson w/ Cheadle is inspired but thankfully it wasn’t just a gimmick. I certainly don’t mind seeing this again!

  9. Consumed by Film July 31, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    This is a solid outing with two really effective lead performances, but I feel it’s hurt by the looming shadow of In Bruges. (Which is much better). I reckon John Michael McDonagh betters himself with Calvary too. Great work Dan.

    Adam.

  10. Three Rows Back July 31, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Yeah, great movie this. Cheadle and Gleeson work really well together. Nice work Dan.

  11. timneath August 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    interesting review, i actually liked the scenes with his mum, made Gleeson more rounded with his own problems, a bit out counter balance to all the comedy I guess.

  12. Nostra October 1, 2014 at 5:23 am

    It was such an enjoyable movie, great review

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