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The Guard More at IMDbPro »

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141 out of 158 people found the following review useful:

Character-driven, raucously thrilling crime comedy

9/10
Author: Davor Blazevic (davor.blazevic@yahoo.com) from Croatia
14 October 2011

Screenplay writer John Michael McDonagh's directorial debut, "The Guard" (2011) is really a fine movie, relying the least on the originality of its story, describing criminal proceedings of the group of cocaine drug-smugglers and their interaction with local police, set against the backdrop of small-town western Ireland, however, filled with crackling good dialogue, sparkling with wisecracks, accompanied with nice scenery and pleasant, unobtrusive music. But, what makes it the best is its protagonists' performances.

Brendan Gleeson is usually natural, making the character he plays fit like a glove—whether the robust and humorous loyal buddy and the warrior, as in "Braveheart" (1995), or a quiet and subdued aspiring politician, as in "Gangs of New York" (2002), or a non-supportive father, civil war volunteer-turned-deserter, as in "Cold Mountain" (2003), whether the gentle, mentoring, culture-exploring hit man in hiding, as in "In Bruges" (2008), or on the other side of the law, the grouchy police sergeant with defiant, often dissident sense of humour (provocative in one-liners like "being FBI, don't you prefer to fight unarmed women and children…"), as in this movie--and Don Cheadle, in the role of FBI agent Wendell Everett, a bit in the shade of Gleeson's Gerry Boyle, but nevertheless, sufficiently competitive ("Langley is CIA, I'm FBI…"), neat and convincing in his performance as always. (I admit to have a soft spot for this actor since his impressive role of the manager of Kigali Mille Collines hotel in the movie "Hotel Rwanda" (2004), the very same hotel I have been frequenting for two months in 1995, just a year later to tragic events described in the movie.)

To a pretty frequent movie goer like myself, who hasn't seen a single en par (or better?) leading actor in this year that is rapidly advancing towards its end, it is hard to believe that very many better acting performances could be demonstrated in the remaining two months or so. Therefore, if Brendan Gleeson does not find himself at least among top nominees for any yearly awarded film prize, I'll have a problem finding such decisions just.

As a marginal note, I was lucky to watch this movie back home in my motherland, because having it subtitled was very helpful in order not to miss any of sergeant Boyle's wisecracks, delivered often in heavy Irish accent, and to understand at all occasional lines, uttered by marginal characters, spoken completely in Gaelic. Of course, point was not to be understood by English native speakers, but it was still interesting to know what usual "advices" (if not insults) were given to English speakers, though eventually not English (as FBI agent!) at all. As Irish colleague of mine once said… "We don't sing songs in Gaelic so English people cannot understand how badly we talk about them, they know it already! We sing in Gaelic simply because that's our traditional language (N.B. official whatsoever), and songs sound much better and sweeter in it."

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129 out of 170 people found the following review useful:

Film defence

Author: roboclerk-130-629555 from Belfast, United Kingdom
10 August 2011

I must take issue with the bobbowhite review.

As a citizen of Ireland I can safely say that this film is easy to understand and accents should not be adjusted just so that USA folk can follow.

If an English MP can find the film enjoyable and recommend it to her 35,000+ twitter followers, then no-one should complain.

The scenery is superb.

The characters just right for the West of Ireland as I remember it.

The whole scope of the current Irish populace is contained in the film and age old attitudes subtly dealt with.

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94 out of 114 people found the following review useful:

Gleeson commands the screen from start to finish. Hilarious.

7/10
Author: markgorman from United Kingdom
18 June 2011

Michael McDonagh is the brother of one of the funniest writers in the world just now. Like him, he is a foul mouthed upstart with a unique ability to investigate Irishness with tremendous energy and vividness.

I was lucky enough to attend the premiere in Edinburgh this week and enjoyed what is another great addition to the McDonagh canon of work.

Inevitably it has to be compared to the superior In Bruges but this is no lightweight cast off. Particularly when it one again focuses on a heavyweight performance by Irish heavyweight, Brendan Gleeson. In "In Bruges" Gleeson had to battle for compliments against Colin Farrell who has never performed better and had most of the best lines. Not here. This is all Gleeson, ably abetted by Don Cheadle as the Black FBI agent drafted in on the back of a glittering career to track down a bunch of slightly bungling drug runners in sleepy old Conemarra - Gleeson's patch.

Gleeson and Cheadle spar well and develop a likable relationship, despite this it's not the heart of the movie; that belongs, again, to Gleeson in a tour de force performance.

Cheadle's good and is a great foil. The baddies are less well developed characters and, for my taste, were slightly too caricaturised.

It's not a life changing film but it has to be seen for Gleeson's complete mastery of McDonagh's marvellous script.

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80 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

Understated and funny, a showpiece for Gleeson

Author: bdgill12 from United States
21 August 2011

Despite the fact that I live in a bustling metropolis, all of the theaters that show smaller films are somewhere between 30 and 50 miles away. In "Dallas Traffic Time", that translates to somewhere between 90 minutes and 16 days. As a result, I don't get time to see many of these films until they come to DVD, if at all. In my experience, art house films are often the most difficult to write about and even more difficult to properly judge, particularly in the summer. When almost everything I've watched in the last three months has involved superheroes, aliens, or jokes related to bodily functions, I have a tough time transitioning to more mature and cinematic endeavors. So it is with "The Guard, a film entirely unlike anything else I saw this summer.

Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is an off-the-wall, somewhat crotchety veteran police officer who patrols a small Irish town. Shortly after beginning an investigation into a peculiar murder, Boyle discovers that his case is related to a major drug ring that is currently being hunted by FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle). As straight-laced as they come, Everett is an odd pair for Boyle but the two are forced to work together to take down the cartel. When the case pulls Boyle in deeper than he would have ever imagined he is forced to reexamine his life's work and turn himself into an unlikely hero.

If that synopsis makes "The Guard" sound wholly serious, bear in mind that it is completely and totally a comedy. A dark comedy to be sure but a comedy nonetheless. If you've ever wondered what "Hot Fuzz" would be like if it was subtle and less over-the-top, "The Guard" fits the bill. This is writer/director John Michael McDonagh's first full length film but I would never have guessed it if not for the magic of IMDb. It is a witty, well-written film that makes its tone clear from the first scene. The pacing isn't exactly what I would call slow but instead calculatedly casual; it knows where it intends to go and it makes its way with balanced determination. This is a film that knows its own identity and doesn't stray from the dark comedy path more than a time or two. Its humor is smart and lively. Even with the thick accents (which probably caused me to miss a joke or two) "The Guard" is filled with exquisite dialogue and understated jokes that brought more laughs than anything from all but the very best big budget comedies this year has brought.

The plot of "The Guard" is simple but refined and that pushes all of the attention onto the characters and the actors who portray them. Cheadle is a solid straight man and as he always does, he makes the absolute most of every scene he is given. As one of the ringleaders of the drug ring, Mark Strong's character is straight out of a Guy Ritchie film, a role Strong is great at playing. Please Mr. Strong: stick to these films and stay away from popcorn crap like "Green Lantern." But despite all of the excellent actors around him, "The Guard" is all about Gleeson. His work in 2008's "In Bruges" (coincidentally directed by McDonagh's brother Martin) finally brought him the attention he deserves, but Gleeson has always been a favorite of mine, a magnificent actor who never fails to impress no matter how little screen time he is given. Boyle is a without a doubt a curmudgeon (and a slightly racist one at that) but Gleeson makes him exceedingly likable. He is a wild card, the type of guy who does the right thing when you're absolutely sure he's going to continue to disgrace himself and Gleeson pulls this off perfectly. Moreover, he once again exhibits the brilliant comedic timing that has made him one of the best and most versatile actors that Ireland has to offer. I'm not saying it's his best performance but rather another in a long string of quality portrayals that illustrate just how undervalued this guy really is.

Fun, intelligent, and genuinely hilarious, "The Guard" is an excellent departure from my typical fare this time of year. I've made no bones about the fact that I really like summer blockbusters. I love them, in fact. But when a movie like "The Guard" comes along in the midst of the "Conan the Barbarians" of the world, it serves as an incredibly refreshing reminder of what we have to hope for in the coming months.

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55 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Expect to laugh and cringe at a glimpse of Irishness

10/10
Author: Alan Wilson from Dundalk, Ireland
29 July 2011

The guard is like lethal weapon if it was set in the west of Ireland. Unorthodox police work-yes, disregard for superiors -check, only thing is Sgt. Gerry Boyle has slightly less enthusiasm for action than Officer Riggs.

At times during this movie I had to turn away so no one would see me smiling at the few racist comments, slurs and generalizations. But I wasn't surprised to see behind me, no else in the cinema was holding back the laughter. It seems that it takes a lot for Irish people to find something offensive.

The rest of the characters were enjoyable to watch. They are a close representation of who you should expect to meet if you spend enough time in Ireland and will get you into some memorable 'situations'.

OK so this review is more about Ireland than the movie but I think to enjoy this movie you need to embrace both the story and culture of the country.

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48 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Either Smart or Stupid

7/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
14 August 2011

Greetings again from the darkness. Writer/Director John Michael McDonagh is the brother of Martin McDonagh, who brought us the excellent In Bruges (which also starred Brendan Gleeson). I figured it best to say that upfront because there is no way to avoid comparisons of the two films. Clearly these men grew up in the same house and were trained in a brilliant method of writing dialogue.

Brendan Gleeson delivers a powerful and hilarious performance as a local cop (Garda) in rural Ireland. His Sgt Gerry Boyle is quite an enigma - he gets along great with locals, yet struggles to fit into society. This is never more apparent than when FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) hits town on a drug smuggling investigation. The key to their relationship is crystallized at the moment an exasperated Agent Everett says to Boyle, 'I can't tell if you are really smart or really dumb'. Of course, I am paraphrasing because the F-word gets literally worn out in this movie. There aren't many lines I can actually quote in print. But the word rolls off Gleeson's tongue as if it's a work of art ... especially in conversation with his ailing mother, played well by the always terrific Fionnula Flanagan.

The international drug smugglers being chased are a trio led by Liam Cunningham and the always interesting Mark Strong. The endless rips, insults and jokes are fired rapidly at Americans, Brits and anyone unfortunate enough to hail from Dublin. Boyle uses his Irish background as a crutch for his racism and insensitivity. But he leaves no doubt about his expertise as a cop. Heck he even recognizes the importance of some 9 year old kid riding around on a pink bicycle. That's just another example of the off-center approach to story telling offered by McDonagh.

If you are a fan of In Bruges, Snatch, or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I think you will enjoy this one. It falls just short of that level, but not by much. Gleeson is outstanding and the story is simple enough, yet with plenty of twist, turns and hilarity.

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65 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

Funny, entertaining, but flawed.

7/10
Author: Fatboydim from Ireland
8 July 2011

I saw this movie in Galway at the film Fleadh. Dit it entertain me? Absolutely. Would I buy it on DVD / Blu Ray ? Another yes. Funnier than The Hangover [1st film] In my opinion yes. However just like that film you have to decide very early on to suspend your disbelief and just go along for the ride.

I feel a little for John Michael McDonagh as he will no doubt always walk in the shadow of his brother. Which is a burden most writer / directors do not have to deal with. Already an early reviewer has compared it to In Bruges. I think I gave In Bruges a ten star rating. This has an eight. In Bruges - as extraordinary as it was - had a whiff of truth about it and the danger in the movie was real. Here the action is so cartoon that it generates no tension at all, and you never really fear for the characters. Of course Gleeson is in both movies and in my opinion give a much better performance in In Bruges. . Here he is just having fun. Who can blame him... The characters in The Guard are drawn with very broad brush strokes, and lack any kind of subtlety. The sub-plot involving Fionnula Flanagan feels bolted on and slows the movie down. It's intended to show the main character has a softer side, but you can get that through the thrust of the main story, and the elements are there to take advantage of this. Simple things that could have been done to add a little more realism and heart to the movie that would have generated greater emotion, depth of feeling, tension, jeopardy and ultimately bigger laughs.

At the Q & A afterward it was suggested the script was written in 13 days. Clearly that was just a first draft - but I do think subsequent drafts were not worked hard enough. As sometimes there isn't enough breathing space between the jokes... so the bigger gags / situations don't build in the way they should. Or a moment of compassion is lost because a laugh comes rolling on top of it due to a cheap gag.In that respect it feels to me as if the writer / director is still learning pace and rhythm. It's very common in comedy where a writer doesn't want to lose what he feels is a good gag - but sometimes you have to cut gag A in order to get a bigger laugh on gag B. A stronger script editor on the film could have made all the difference.

So all in all it is a bravo. I very much enjoyed the movie. I do expect John Michael McDonagh to go on to bigger and better things and I wish the movie great success. After all 8/10 is a great score.

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43 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

fantastic dry comedy with comical racism

Author: thedavidrowley from United States
26 August 2011

For everyone who saw and loved In Bruges, have I got the next movie for you…The Guard. This is a fantastic piece of cinema brought to us by John Michael McDonagh, the brother of Martin McDonagh, who was writer/director of In Bruges. This is the first major film directed by John Michael McDonagh and it does not disappoint.

Set in western Ireland, The Guard begins aerial view of a drunk driver cruising down the highway at high speeds. Right from the start it's easy to understand where the humor will come from – Brendan Gleeson, who also played a large role in In Bruges. The car goes out of frame, skids, squeals, and crashes in front of Gleeson's patrol car. Oh, did I mention he's a cop this time? Quite the role reversal. The crash wakes him – slowly – from his day dream and he pulls up to check out the scene. After rummaging through the pockets of one of the people in the car he finds a bag of drugs, which he tosses away from the body, though, not before dropping a tablet of acid for himself. Cut to introductory credits.

If this doesn't get you off, leave the theatre and begin questioning your understanding of what's funny. The rest of the movie is comprised of smartass remarks and brilliant dry humor.

Don Cheadle plays a straight laced, by the books, FBI agent from the States investigating a drug smuggling scheme that's rumored to be happening in the area. These two must work together to find crack an overlapping case (Cheadle's looking for the drug lords, Gleeson's looking for murder suspects – the same people). It's a good buddy-cop narrative between the two and they work really well together.

I don't want to gush too much more over this movie, just go see it. I'll leave you with a quote that should depict a fair picture about the humor in this movie: Gleeson: I'm Irish. Racism is part of my culture.

See this movie. Until next time folks, cheers!

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47 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

Protecting comedy

10/10
Author: kosmasp
8 September 2011

I really don't like those phrases but this movie deserves the "instant classic" tag in my book. B. Gleeson is just amazing and seeing Don Cheadle having a role where he is actually acting is a treat in itself too. He has shown so much potential (Hotel Rwanda to name but one movie), but has done quite a few awful movies too, that I always relish him in the ones that actually are good.

But it's the Gleeson show here and the guy shows he can carry a movie alone. He is funny, witty and his character is quite hard to define. Actually a sort of Dujardin "OSS 117", but more realistically and more cynically I guess. Or if you want to go old school, Pink Panther it is. There is not enough good words I can say about this, so I suggest you go ahead and watch it yourself :o)

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A precious little gem of a movie (not your usual comedy)

8/10
Author: JohnRayPeterson from Montreal, Canada
1 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First you need to read the full storyline of this movie, then consider the two main characters, Sergeant Gerry Boyle and FBI agent Wendell Everett, played by Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle respectively, and you have yourself the makings of something special. Many of you know about Cheadle but perhaps the name of Gleeson not as much; he has a wealth of experience and you will not be disappointed by any of this actor's performances. Since I watch a fair share of Euro productions, I knew I was in for a treat. Sergeant Boyle is a character you can't help but loathe and really like all at the same time, in other words an ideal character for the screen, and he's got the physical appearance that commands attention. Cheadle plays such a different character that the pair's interaction has you hooked for the duration. It is not a gut laughing movie, but one that uses humour naturally flowing from Irish culture. Oh yeah… your ears are likely not tuned for some of the dialogue which is heavy with the Irish dialect, so the pause-rewind features will come in handy (by all means, use them it's worth it not to miss the colorful dialogue).

To describe the outrageous Sergeant Boyle is something that could turn you off, you'd likely dismiss the movie; trust me, seeing him is an entirely different thing, because Gleeson makes him very real, not at all outrageous (that's acting). The crime story that unfolds is slow to average pace because it had to be; it's happening in a small coastal town in Ireland. Anything quicker paced would be unrealistic. There are other very good supporting actors in this movie and UK movie enthusiasts will recognize them immediately, like Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan. I have written often that I watch an inordinate number of movies in hopes to find gems (small low budget productions, big viewing value); I rarely do and less often have the chance to recommend one. I recommend this one. My usual sources (critics sites etc.) gave it a strong rating and that pleases me.

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