The Guard stars Brendan Gleeson (The General) as Boyle, a local guard in a small Irish town who stumbles upon a murder with his typical dimwittedness (or is it?) and sarcasm. This hilarious film, while not offering a ton of ‘guffaws,’ nevertheless had me chuckling from start to finish. It ranks as one of the best movies of 2011 and the best comedy of the year.
When Don Cheadle’s uptight U.S. FBI agent Wendell Everett visits to investigate a major drug movement, the film really begins to take off. Everett is not one for the chiding that Boyle provides and he never is sure of how bright the local guard truly is. In tone this film most echoes 2008’s stellar In Bruges.
The plot is relevant to the film, but the movie makes its way through its wisecracking lead and strong cast of supporting characters. From the underused Mark Strong (RockNRolla) to David Wilmot’s hilarious henchman, there are plenty of laughs to be found throughout. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh makes his directorial debut one to crow about, deftly mixing interpersonal relationship interactions within a larger framework of cop work. This is a talent to keep an eye on in the future.
One of the reasons The Guard shines is the chemistry between the two leads. These two men, who, I have long admired, are both in fine form here. Cheadle obviously loved the material as he also served as a producer on the project. It also is a film that takes chances, making very politically incorrect statements to great effect that typically just don’t fly in American films. The ending is one that also is not common to films made in the U.S., which makes it all the more satisfying. Let your guard down and have fun with this film; it’s worth your time.