Today: May 22, 2024

The Guard DVD

Wonderfully un-PC, crass and rude this is one guest everyone should enjoy.

Wonderfully un-PC, crass and rude this is one guest everyone
should enjoy.

Brendan Gleeson has one of those faces that screams moody depressive
while gentle as a lamb. You need
only look at some of his turns in say Braveheart
(1995) to see that beneath the hulking exterior is a big old softy, or within
Mad Eye Moody’s spinning ocular in Harry
is a damaged soul waiting to be set free. Then came In Burges
(2008) a film that allowed Gleeson to truly play with his put-upon sad-sack
face. Acting as a surrogate
father/brother to the foul-mouthed Colin
in Martin McDonagh’s
wonderful black comedy proved that given the right character, and crucially his
native accent, there was more screen presence to Gleeson than merely supporting

Enter John Michael McDonagh, Martin’s
brother, who clearly saw in Gleeson a man more than fit to carry a film and
allow that hang-dog face to let loose with a cheeky Irish grin and more than
one or two racial, political and generally offensive slurs. The results are nothing short of one of
last year’s most brutally funny and outrageous films.

Sergeant Gerry
Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a small town cop in Ireland. He has his own set of rules and will
normally go out of his way to do as little police work as possible. But when a drug smuggling ring, including
Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong, set-up shop in his town
he’s more than a little peeved.
After all, it’s one thing for him to bend, break and shatter the law,
it’s another for others to do so on his watch. The only problem is he doesn’t have the man or firepower to
take them on himself so looks to the by the book FBI Agent, Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), for help.

Like his
brother’s In Burge it is very hard to pigeonhole McDonagh’s The Guard into any
one genre. One minute it can be a
dark comedy, the next a bawdy satire, sometimes it’s a funny buddy movie, with
Cheadle bringing the serious Ying to Gleeson’s comedy Yang, the next minute a
Western set in the gloom and drizzle of Ireland. Whatever you want to call it though it is never anything
other than laugh out loud funny.
Unlike the broader American comedies that are churned out every year,
The Guard doesn’t rely on cartoon-inflicted characters but rather believable
individuals that, while erring on the side of eccentric, are all too

McDonagh has infused the film with endlessly quotable lines akin to that other
great British classic Withnail & I
(1987). Gerry is a nasty piece of
work, a cop who will let speeding drug dealers go in order to pinch their drugs
once they have died in a horrific car accident. He himself admits that you have to admire the enterprise on
drug dealers and that power corrupts absolutely and he’s “corrupted
absolutely”. Yet behind all his
racist slurs, apparently racism is part of his Irish culture, there is
warmth. Gerry is happy to ignore
much of the goings on until his recently new partner is killed. At the end of it all he’s content to let
the law slide but only if it’s being done by people who like and respect
him. Everyone else better watch

Gleeson and
Cheadle spar off each other nicely and it never feels cruel. Even lines like “I can’t tell if you’re
really motherf*cking dumb or really motherf*cking smart” are greeted with a
brilliant Gleeson smile. That’s
exactly what he wants you thinking.
This is Lethal Weapon (1987) by
way of a Ricky Gervais sketch and,
as such, is a resounding success.

More than
anything else though this is Gleeson’s film. It is through his smug grin and lazy posture that The Guard
both warms and tickles in equal measure.
It’s unlikely that Gleeson will get many leading man gigs, he doesn’t
have that whole Ambercrombie & Fitch thing that leading men need to have
these days, but on this effort you could hang any number of projects on his
broad shoulders and he’d handle them with grace and an Irish cocksure

Saddle up for
this Irish western as this is one Guard who won’t rumble you for shoplifting
but might take a bit off the top of your earnings. The good news is he’ll do it with enough wise cracks to make
you want to come back for more.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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