The Guard

Movies , Comedy
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The Guard

The brother of playwright and In Bruges filmmaker Martin McDonagh, director John Michael McDonagh shows a flash of Tarantino-esque style (with a distinctly Irish lilt) in his delightful debut, combining a blackly comic tone, a cops-and-drug-smugglers story and an obvious sense of pleasure in the joys of snappy, philosophically inclined dialogue. The Guard is set in a small town in a Gaelic-speaking region of County Galway, where sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) has been content to observe the idiocy of the local toughs, sleep with the occasional hooker and spend time with his terminally ill ma.

Suddenly, a crime involving cocaine and a few murders arrives on his doorstep, bringing with it uptight FBI agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle). In narrative terms, it's mostly an excuse to work in a trio of crooks whose banter may be even better than that of our hero; Mark Strong's disgusted rant about paying off policemen and Liam Cunningham--led musings on Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" are enough to justify the entire movie on their own. But thanks to his mighty performance as the blas Boyle, The Guard is Gleeson's show, especially once his cop demonstrates he's far more competent than he first appears---particularly when it comes to needling Cheadle's easily chafed Everett. The Irish actor is both the comic center and the melancholy heart of a film that's content to put its sprawl of engaging characters above their meandering trail of misdeeds.

Follow Alison Willmore on Twitter: @alisonwillmore

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Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday July 29 2011
Duration: 95 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Screenwriter: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson
Liam Cunningham
Don Cheadle
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