The Guard is about a small-town, Irish cop, played by Brendan Gleeson. His methods are unusual and he seems to get off on messing with both his subordinates and superiors. I think most people would consider him to be a bit of an asshole. He's good enough at his job, but doesn't seem to take it all that seriously, as not much happens in his neck of the woods.
When word that a big drug deal might be moving through his town, the FBI, led by Don Cheadle, is brought in to help capture them. That's pretty much the whole story. The rest is just the character interaction.
This has elements of a fish-out-of-water story with Cheadle's character, but this movie is really all about Brendan Gleeson's character. Gleeson is just fantastic here! I've always been a huge fan of his and this is up there with movies like In Bruges.
Don Cheadle gives another great performance and is pretty much the straight man to Gleeson's character. Cheadle doesn't know what to make of Gleeson. Cheadle's character even says of Gleeson's at one point, 'You're either really smart or really dumb.' The Guard plays with that throughout the film.
Even the villains, led by Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong, are played with a sense of humor and given actual personalities, rather than just being cookie cutter bad guys.
This is one of the funniest films I've seen all year. If you like black comedies where most all of the delivery is deadpan then you'll love this. If I wasn't laughing for several moments after a particular scene, then I was just smiling my way through the movie. The Guard is one of those
movies I just thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.
At it's heart, The Guard is a buddy cop film, but if it were made by the Coen brothers, with a little bit of Guy Ritchie thrown in.
This was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, and this appears to be his first major feature. He has almost nothing else to his credits. If this is his first major film, I hope his follow up films are even close to this good. I expect good things from him.
The Guard might be my second favorite film of the year. It's playing at The Vine in Livermore through the 22nd. I highly recommend checking it out, but you might need an Irish to American translator. This is a movie I plan on buying on Blu-Ray the second it comes out and I'm going to watch it over and over.