“The Guard” Lets Its Guard Down
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
After attending a wedding in Ireland my wife and I made a side trip to Connemara, a magical village perched on a broad peninsula in County Galway. The scenery was dazzling – Kilkieran Bay sparkling in the afternoon sunlight, narrow winding roads lined with stone fences, sheep blocking our rental car’s passage. We stopped at a small hotel with a sidewalk café and enjoyed what my wife described as “the best fish ‘n chips in the whole wide world.”
A friendly policeman gave us directions when we got lost, his words an enchanting mixture of English and Gaeltacht (the real Irish language).
A new film titled “The Guard” took us back to Connemara, the scenery just as lovely as we remembered it. But the Garda in the title was hardly the image of the helpful policeman we’d encountered.
In this dark comedy Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a small-town Irish cop “with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought an FBI agent to his door.”
This is a tour de force for Brendan Gleeson. Don Cheadle plays straight-man as the American FBI agent.
Gleeson has been on many moviegoers’ radar since his performance in “In Bruges,” a tale about two hitmen holed up in a scenic European village.
Ironically, “In Bruges” was directed by Martin McDonagh, who happens to be the brother of John Michael McDonagh, director of this film.
“The Guard” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
The culture clash between the unorthodox Irish policeman and the uptight FBI agent provides plenty of humor. But the insults and jokes are not limited to Americans. Brits and anyone unfortunate enough to hail from Dublin are targets for Sergeant Gerry Boyle’s racial and xenophobic slurs.
Compared to the serious-minded “In Bruges,” John Michael McDonagh’s “The Guard” is more a cartoon drawn with a broad brush. Yet there’s plenty of action, not to mention bribery, blackmail and murders by an occult serial killer. As the two coppers pursue the drug smugglers (a reluctant pastime for the sergeant), even the IRA gets in on the bloody rampage.
One moviegoer said it reminded him of “Lethal Weapon,” if the Mel Gibson movie had been set in the west of Ireland. “Unorthodox police work - yes, disregard for superiors - check, only thing is Sergeant Gerry Boyle has slightly less enthusiasm for action than Officer Riggs.”
Maybe my wife and I were too busy looking at the scenery when we visited Connemara. The Garda Síochána na hÉireann didn’t have so many bad guys to catch. Or so it seemed to a couple of starry-eyed tourists.
[from Solares Hill]