Watched Jun 27, 2012
Steve Grzesiak’s review:
"Now now, lads. Not in front of the American."
It's pretty hard not to immediately hold The Guard up to In Bruges, what with both of those films sharing Brendan Gleeson and directors from the same family. But once you actually start watching it, it's a different beast altogether. Not quite as satisfactory, perhaps, but pretty damn close and a super little film in its own right.
Gleeson plays a small town Irish copper who, after being lumbered with a new partner from Dublin, starts to find his world crumbling around him as prostitutes, drug dealers, gun runners, the imminent death of his mother, and the arrival of an FBI agent (Don Cheadle) conspire to make his life more miserable. All he wants to do is play video games, shag some hookers and score some drugs.
At its heart, I guess that it is a pretty simple old buddy cop film (almost two in one, as it turns out) but there is more than enough going on in addition to keep it going. The lovely relationship between Gleeson and his mother (Fionnula Flanagan) is really nicely framed, as are the exchanges between him and his new partner's wife. It has a very charming heart in amongst the expected but not excessive violence and the expected and rarely unfunny profanity.
I've almost run out of superlatives for Gleeson as an actor by now and once again he is on absolutely top form here, drumming up tremendous chemistry with everyone he is paired with in the film. That would include Liam Cunningham, another brilliant Irish character actor who enhances any film just by his presence. Cheadle is good, too, although not given the usual comic freedom you might have expected in a film like this. Mark Strong is also very funny as one of Cunningham's hired thugs.
The ambiguous ending was perhaps slightly silly and not entirely necessary and the climax shoot-out was a bit too Butch Cassidy for my liking, but they are about the only two things in the film that approach damp squibs. The rest of it is filled with endlessly quotable dialogue and funny scenes, while the main plot itself is simple but more than effective.
They're pretty good these McDonagh brothers.