Sgt Gerry Boyle (Brendon Gleeson) isn’t half as suave or badass a rogue cop as you would find in a Hollywood cop drama. But how much bad-assery can a lone Guard in the Irish west coast get up to anyway? Save a little crotch-grabbing here, an odd murder there, and a spend-the-day with prostitutes to liven things up, Sgt Boyle for the most part seems bored with life and law-enforcement. Despite his disinterest Boyle finds himself inadvertently playing comrade to FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) who arrives all the way from America, hot on the heels of an international drug smuggling ring, suspected to be somewhere in West Ireland.
The Guard is John Michael McDonagh’s directorial debut and what a commendable debut it is. The promos may lead you to assume that this is a buddy cop movie, which in essence it is. But I found the focus of the film to be less on the Boyle-Wendell duo, and more on Boyle as a character. Wendell’s role seems to provide a point of contrast to Boyle much rather than companionship. A tender side to Boyle is revealed through the relationship with his terminally ill mother.
…a well-written script with dark, humorous dialogues
The film offers none of the pace or edge-of-the-seat plotlines that conventional cop movies do but it gives you something better; a well-written script with dark, humorous dialogues and atmospheric cinematography. Some of the humour comes from racist, xenophobic comments uttered by the Irish characters, primarily Boyle, which could be misunderstood by a sensitive audience (e.g. Boyle’s response to Agent Wendell, when briefing about the all-white drug smuggling trio they’re after: “I thought only black lads were drug dealers, and Mexicans”). What is important to remember is that these jibes have their relevance in the scheme of the film and its intentions are clear. If anyone’s going to get offended, I assume it would be the Irish.
The two leading men, Cheadle and Gleeson, carry the film with balanced performances, but a stellar set of supporting roles makes the film memorable. Among them are the three Existential, Nietze-quoting drug smugglers, who raked in some good laughs and are worthy of a special mention.
…a stellar set of supporting roles makes the film memorable.
The Guard may not be this year’s big summer blockbuster but it’s sure to go into a cult list or two.
Image courtesy of The Guard