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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Guard

THE GUARD, directed by John Michael McDonagh stars Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Rory Keenan, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan, Dominique McElligott, Sarah Greene and Katarina Cas. A comedic fish-out-of-water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two policemen must join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang; one is an unorthodox Irish policeman, the other a straight-laced FBI agent.

Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleason) is an eccentric small-town cop with a confrontational and crass personality and a subversive sense of humor. A longtime policeman in County Galway, Boyle is a maverick with his own moral code. When a fellow police officer disappears and Boyle's small town becomes key to a large drug trafficking investigation, he is forced to at least feign interest when dealing with the humorless FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) assigned to the case. Agent Everett has led an American life of privilege, complete with the highest levels of formal education. Consumed with his pursuit of justice, Everett has no interest in the district of Connemara other than as a backdrop to solve the case. He underestimates the townspeople, especially Sergeant Boyle. Everett looks down on Boyle as a low-level provincial policeman with a limited and flippant view of the world. Boyle sees Everett as a by-the-book policeman with a chip on his shoulder and no understanding of how the real world runs. Circumstances keep pulling him back into the thick of it. First, his tiresomely enthusiastic new partner disappears. Then his favorite hooker attempts to blackmail him into turning a blind eye to the case. Finally the drug-traffickers he's trying to find try to buy him off-as they have every other member of the local police force. THE GUARD

The Guard is a Western. The Wild West, in this case, being the West of Ireland, where an isolated frontier town has for its lawman an eccentric individual with a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and a heightened sense of the absurd. Sgt. Gerry Boyle takes nothing and no one seriously, but when a fellow police officer disappears and the small town Boyle patrols becomes an important location in the greater scheme of things, he is forced to at least feign interest when dealing with the humorless FBI agent assigned to the case. But don't go thinking that this is just another buddy-cop movie, The Guard is far far different. It has a great story and plenty of dark humor making it more than a rehash of Dragnet.

So what do we have here? We have an original lead character, brilliantly acted by Gleeson, with a jaundiced, melancholic outlook. We have three unpredictable villains with almost a three stooges type of feel, but give the stooges guns. We have a bewildered sidekick who has no idea what the heck is going on. And we have a strange, unusual location: Connemara, whose landscape lends itself to a kind of epic grandeur.

All in all, we have the ingredients for a visually-stylized, poetic, widescreen film, with a mythic resonance and a darkly comic sense of humor, the classic tradition of John Ford and Preston Sturges. A melancholic undertow coupled with a kind of black comedy sets The Guard miles away from recent downbeat movie trends. Wonderfully directed with an amazing script that can bring out rich and full characters to the big screen this film is getting a MUST SEE rating from me. :)

Opens August 5
Embarcadero and Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco
Shattuck in Berkeley
Cinearts in Pleasant Hill
Cinearts in Palo Alto
Santana Row in San Jose
Regency in San Rafael

Check your local listing for a theater showing near you. :)

Getting 4 and 1/2 Unlikely Hero Sheep


  1. This is my kind of movie! Can't wait to check it out

  2. The I Smell Sheep Blog is like a box of chocolates .... you never know what they're going to write about. LOVE the variety!

    THE GUARD sounds like a movie I could really love. I would never have heard of this one if you hadn't written about it - thanks! I'm going over to Netflix to put it on my list. :D

  3. This one definitely sounds like a watcher. I was going to ask - but I see Dani has mentioned netflix - maybe we will bump in the isles :)

  4. this movie seems great ! i'm curious to watch it !