The Guard is about an unconventional racist Irish policeman, Sergeant Gerry Boyle, (Brendan Gleeson) that teams up with an American FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) set on stopping a trio of drug-running killers (two of the three played by Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong) with everyone wandering around the charming Irish countryside. Take your typical Irish film focused on the rural or working class, throw in Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte’s 48 Hours, add a pinch of Wes Anderson’s quirky characters, mix them all together and you’ll get The Guard. For such a short film, it’s a shame that The Guard moves at a sluggish pace at times. With a few snips here and there, this movie could have been really great. But the main reason for checking out this film is for Brendan Gleeson. Brendan Gleeson is so damn funny in The Guard. It’s no surprise that he got a Golden Globe nomination for this film. He delivers line after line of great dialogue. In one scene of Everett trying to bromantically bond with Boyle, they have an exchange that goes like:
Everett: Do you want to see a photo of my baby boy?
Everett: What do you mean by no?
Boyle: Most babies are beautiful and all look the same. Why should I look at the photo if I know what your baby is going to look like? Unless your baby is really ugly, then it’s worth looking at…Is your baby really ugly?
Everett: Do you know how rude you are?
Brendan Gleeson has come a long way since playing Hamish – William Wallace’s sidekick in Braveheart. I’ve always gotten a kick out of watching this big cuddly Irish bear grow into a highly entertaining leading man, especially since he’s not the typical type to headline Hollywood films. He’s been getting juicy character roles over the years, playing memorable characters in Lake Placid, A.I., 28 Days Later, Gangs of New York, Troy, Harry Potter, and his best film – In Bruges.
Although the 1080p 2.35:1 video quality is generally beautiful to watch, it’s a wee bit soft. Filmed like a comic book, the contrasting colors really impress. This is probably the most colorful Irish film I’ve ever seen. The video is detailed, rich in color and has a very nice depth. As expected for a new movie, I did not notice any scratches or negative aspects – totally clean and pleasing presentation!
The English DTS-HD 5.1 is overall a very pleasing experience. The few heavy metal music scenes in the movie are mixed at a tiny bit higher level than the dialogue so I did have to jump to the remote a couple times to decrease the volume, but overall the audio is mixed very well and sets the mood nicely for an Irish countryside movie. Even though dialogue is totally clear, I watched the movie with English subtitles because of the thick Irish accents. The dialogue was too entertaining and I didn’t want to miss any line of dialogue. In the few action scenes with shooting and explosions, the audio impressed as well. Overall, it’s a well-represented audio mix that won’t disappoint!
Extras are decent and include:
– Audio Commentary with Director John Michael McDonagh and Actors Don Cheadle & Brendan Gleeson
– Making of The Guard (1080p, 19:21)
– The Second Death (480p, DD 2.0, 11:32): A short film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, which wasn’t that great
– Outtakes (480p, 3:05) which aren’t that funny
– Q & A with Actors Don Cheadle, Brendan Gleeson and Director John Michael McDonagh (480p, 18:09)
– Deleted Scenes (480p, 6:07)
– Extended and Alternate Scenes (480p, 18:37)
– The Guard Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:18)
– Trailers for other films
I was hoping the magic of In Bruges would transfer into The Guard, but it’s not so. This film has great acting, witty dialogue, and comic-book visuals, but overall The Guard falls into the category of being one of those films when a writer-turned-director tries too hard for it to obtain a cult following. Remember how James Avery (Pulp fiction writer) directed Rules of Attraction, how David S. Goyer (Batman Begins/The Dark Knight writer) directed Blade Trinity, and how Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential writer) directed Payback? That’s how John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard feels – too ambitious and with many scenes that needed to be cut from the film. There were just too many scenes that just didn’t gel together too. Although it seems very minor, the film would have been a lot better had it been cut by ten minutes. Already a short movie at 96 minutes, it seemed like the director had to stretch it out to make it feature length. He’s definitely talented since this is his first film (he wrote Heath Ledger’s Ned Kelly back in 2003) – he can inspire good performances from his actors and film a scene with beautiful and colorful cinematography, but it’s his writing that shines. It’s also funny and clichéd that every character curses non-stop. I don’t think it’s possible for an Irish crime-comedy to not have one curse word in them. I’m still waiting for the day when a filmmaker can make an Irish crime film without using one curse word!
Although the story is nothing new and the movie has some slow and unnecessary scenes that could have been cut, I recommend renting The Guard to see Brendan Gleeson’s impressive performance and his memorable hilarious lines of dialogue.