Sunday, 13 January 2013

No.62 : The Guard

 This enjoyable comedy thriller opens as Brendan Gleeson’s jaded Irish police sergeant or ‘Guard’ sits in his police car. We quickly realise that he’s seen it all before when a car load of druggies crash in front of him without him raising an eyebrow. We also get a snapshot of his moral compass as he helps himself to the dead louts’ drugs before dumping the rest so that their mothers won’t learn of their criminal lifestyles.

The film proper opens with our man being called to a murder scene. He has in tow a young constable who would rival Father Dougal in the thickness stakes. The murder scene is peppered with clues such as a ‘5 1/2’ daubed on the wall, but while the protégé thinks it may be the work of a serial killer our man has it down as nothing more than a routine killing.

Despite a tip off the case goes cold until a visiting FBI operative briefs the Irish about a $500 million drug smuggling operation that is likely to land on their patch. Brendan enjoys ripping the piss from the buttoned up American but is taken seriously when he reveals that one of the FBI’s suspects was in fact his murder victim.

As you may guess the tight ass American and the maverick Irishman have to join forces to stop the bad guys and hopefully build some cultural and racial bridges.

Although this film has the set up of an ‘Odd Couple’ cop movie with a ‘fish out of water’ angle thrown in, it does a good job of subverting the genre and giving as some laughs along the way. There aren’t too many surprises but Gleeson’s character is a lot of fun, romping with hookers on his day off and inventing a clever way to turn the tables on a killer - oh the itch!

The American is played with some charm by Don Cheadle and although I didn’t quite buy into his character, he is likable enough to keep you invested. The intended friction between the two leads never really convinced and although frosty for five minutes you never felt that a team up and mutual respect were a long way off.

The threat element is delivered by a trio of drug lords who are more council estate than Columbia. They are lead by the always villainous Mark Strong who is as good a shot as he is a smuggler. They did have a couple of malevolent scenes, but were always just a foil for our two leads to mesh together.

The laughs are liberally sprinkled throughout and some of the second string characters are good value, especially the young lad who finds, and helps himself to, a cache of guns.

The character development was kept to a minimum and it was refreshing that Gleeson remained as boorish and un-PC throughout, despite  Don’s criticisms. The ending was left somewhat enigmatic but there was enough sown throughout the film to assume things will turn out OK.

I enjoyed this film, that offered nothing in the way of surprises but loads in terms of laughs and charm.

THE Tag Line : Guard your hookers and drugs!  72%

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