Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Guard (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

 The Guard

If struggling simians are not your bag, "The Guard" proves a wisecracking antidote for any ape overdose. The film is of the charming Buddy-Cop genre that remains only slightly irreverent. It stars Brendan Gleeson as Sargeant Boyle and Don Cheadle as FBI agent Everett. 
Gleeson is just plain big: a box on legs. In the role of Gerry Boyle, he is like a bereft panda, alternately surly, smug and sweet. Boyle is just as quick to steal a hit of acid from a corpse as he is to haul a person in for questioning. Cheadle's agent Everett is a stand tall man who disposes with pleasantries. 
The two are brought together by chance in the hopes of busting a drug ring. The plot elements are not as entertaining as the undeniable chemistry between Gleeson and Cheadle. Their repartee is authentic, refreshingly human and unapologetic. Not since Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd has there been such rapid-fire exchanges. Yes, Boyle is racist and full of issues, but by is own admission this seems natural given his Irish background and therefore not mean spirited. What was once cringe-making in other earlier comedies is now played for laughs as Sargeant Boyle is so clueless.
But Boyle is no Archie Bunker. Throughout the film we see his warm side as he discovers that his insulated worldview does not match the current diverse worldscape. And we can laugh along with Boyle as we do with agent Everett when every door is closed upon this man "not from here". Boyle emerges as a well-meaning and earnest Paul Kersey. If he falls, stumbles or slides, it is all in earnest. 
Gleeson is part Charles Bronson from "Death Wish" and part Simon Pegg from "Hot Fuzz" but his character is ultimately more believable than the ones in these films. In Gleeson's dry deadfish delivery there is no fakery. We could just as well see Boyle at the corner pub. There is a little of Benny Hill in him too. Boyle is not beyond a bit of fun. He smirks to himself, lively in lust. He also might stay too long at a peep show--- a solitary comedian without a pair of bosoms to oogle.
When Boyle finally takes aim with fire we cheer, because he has joy in his underdog condition and yet still remains the aghast jokester. The sequence is a fitting punch line to any Bronson brow-beater
The children too, offer a dark humoured end to what could have been a mainstream fadeout in other films.   Children pick over the black earth like refugees from a bloody Sesame Street.  Today's murder photos are tomorrow's album covers. Violence has color to these young eyes that narrow prematurely before their time.
The adult criminals are appropriately seedy. Indeed they are nefarious and smarmy, but these cloaked ones bark more then they bite. The three of them with the exception of Mark Strong, are about as threatening as Joe Pesci in "Home Alone" but one should not go see "The Guard" for its criminal element.
The delight is in the dialogue.

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