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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Fionnula Flanagan, Mark Strong, Darren Healy
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
John Michael McDonagh
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
96 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Sony Classics
DVD EXTRAS
Outtakes; Deleted & Extended Scenes; "The Second Death" Short Film; Commentary w/Director John Michael McDonagh, Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson and quite a bit more!
 "The Guard" Review 
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If the Academy would reward films for being among the year's most entertaining, then The Guard would no doubt be near the top of the list. The film stars Brendan Gleeson as Gerry Boyle, an unconventional cop in the West of Ireland who's investigation of a murder is complicated by the arrival of FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), a more "by the book" officer investigating a drug-smuggling ring.

The Guard may very well feature the year's best dialogue, perfectly suited for the awesomely talented Gleeson's blustery, energized and inspired delivery. Gleeson, whether you realize it or not, is quite familiar to American audiences having played Mad Eye Moody in the Harry Potter films along with his appearances in such films as Gangs of New York, Green Zone, A.I., Troy and the upcoming Oscar bait Albert Nobbs.

Of course, Don Cheadle is also a household name here in the United States, but whoever had the brilliant idea of casting the two of these actors together deserves a bonus. The more bombastic Gleeson is perfectly countered by Cheadle's deadpan, thoughtful performance. While it's conceivable that this variance could feel awkward, in the hands of these two genuinely talented actors it works out perfectly.

The brilliance that is Gerry Boyle is that you can never quite figure out if the guy's a complete doofus or if he's totally brilliant, a confusion that comes courtesy of Gleeson's ability to be absolutely convincing at both. Gleeson's Boyle is loyal to his mother (played hilariously by Fionnula Flanagan), as committed to his own satisfaction as he is to the law, potentially quite racist and willing to be honest about it and, just maybe, he's also an incredibly astute officer with Columbo-like instincts that, in the end, begin to impress a difficult to impress Everett as the two must unite to combat the drug-smuggling ring that has even infiltrated the rural police department.

Gleeson has already been recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for  Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, and while his Oscar odds are likely a bit of a longshot it's nice to see this gifted performer getting a chance to head up a film. In addition to the leading performances, Mark Strong again proves why he's the go to actor for bad guys with a performance so damn cranky and riled up that you can't help but crack a smile. He's joined by the impressive Liam Cunningham, who worked with McDonagh on a previous short film and is an actor we should most assuredly be seeing lots more from in the future.

The Guard is hitting home video with Sony Classics on January 3, 2012 and it comes with a whole slew of extras including an absolutely awesome commentary featuring the director and both co-leads (Tis' one of the greatest things about Cheadle...he's always been the consummate team player and he always seems to show up on these extras!). The extras also include the aforementioned short film "The Second Death" along with some incredible outtakes and, strangely enough, MUCH more.

If you prefer your comedy like you prefer your strait-laced detectives (dark and to the point), then The Guard's for you. If you prefer your comedy inane and sub-moronic, then you're probably better off with the godawful Jack & Jill.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  

    The Official Rating Guideline
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