The Guard

5 Jan

Director: John Michael McDonagh

Writer: John Michael McDonagh (screenplay)

Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle and Mark Strong

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 96 minutes



Intentionally or not, The Guard sees its writer director John Michael McDonagh following his brother Martin into the black comedy territory of small time hoodlums and conflicted tough guys. Martin wrote and directed In Bruges and both his film and this one from John Michael has the splendid Irish actor Brendan Gleeson in a leading role.

Gleeson plays Sergeant Gerry Boyle as an unconventional small-town police officer in Galway on the rugged west coast of Ireland. His beat is relatively quiet until a dead drug dealer turns up followed by a gang of smugglers and the FBI in the form of Don Cheadle (as agent Wendell Everett). What follows is a wonderfully written dark comedy with Cheadle’s well-drilled fish out of water rubbing up against Gleeson’s unpredictable and arch local.

This is a warm, well paced and entertaining film with Gerry Boyle a great central character. Both his language and attitude are terrible. Boyle drinks on duty, has no respect for authority and frequents call girls with regularity. And yet he’s no dummy in police work and maintains a sense of morality and justice. As such he and the film carry a certain western persona as supported by the Sergio Leone type score – once upon a time in western Ireland perhaps? If not, I like the description of this movie by another critic as Bad Lieutenant meets Father Ted!

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