The Guard Review

No one ever really dies.

Do you believe that?

Well if not, for you, it’s almost over now.

Fortunately for Galway, one Gerry Boyle has no doubts about his own mortality.

The Guard begins with a red sports car speeding down an empty stretch of tarmac, loud music pounding out a rhythm while a cliché of young men pass around drinks and drugs.

King posers, if you will.

Thankfully, it’s almost over for them. And Sergeant Boyle gets to witness their wasted lives extinguished on this nothing road as their car overturns and careers into a wall.

Casually inspecting the soon to be deceased’s pockets, Boyle confiscates their drugs to spare their dear mammy’s from thinking too harshly of their sons.

The Sergeant then takes a tab of acid for good measure, before leaving the boys to die where they lay.

Now that’s my idea of policing.

Not soon after this brief encounter with Galway’s youth, Sergeant Boyle comes across another dead body in his district. This one definitely involved foul play as there’s a bullet in the dead man’s skull, as well as a pot plant in his lap.

Regrettably, this isn’t the kind you can roll.

It’s at this time that FBI agent Wendell Everett arrives in Ireland to investigate a supposed £500m drugs shipment of cocaine american intelligence has uncovered.

That’s half a billion, for those not paying attention.

In spite of their less than auspicious introduction, this odd couple of Boyle and Wendell decide two heads are better than one as they try to unravel just what the feck is going on in sleepy Galway.

The Guard is a throwback to the good old days of cinema and society itself, where people could be as racist as they liked and nobody would bat an eyelid.

And everyone has a racist nan in their family, most likely two, so I’m sure we can all relate to this.

Of course, The Guard isn’t racist at all; it just pokes fun at the ridiculous nature of our politically correct culture and words that people have deemed unacceptable in modern culture.

Either that or I’m a racist too.

Still, one thing I am sure of is that The Guard is the funniest film I’ve seen this year.

Brendan Gleeson is fantastic as the maverick law unto himself, Sergeant Gerry Boyle. Anyone familiar with In Bruges will know the kind of deadpan comedy to expect from Gleeson, and The Guard’s style of humour is even blacker than that other fantastic export from Ireland.

The strong ensemble cast around Gleeson is pleasing enough. Thankfully, Don Cheadle doesn’t attempt another strangled english accent as yank detective Wendell, Liam Cunningham is the drug lord with a plan and Mark Strong is suitably convincing as a nihilistic heavy.

But the real star of The Guard is undoubtedly writer and director John Michael McDonagh. The dialogue throughout is razor sharp, with McDonagh’s wit and fearlessness frequently on show as he pulls no punches in this story of two fish out of water.

By the end, I’d come to the conclusion that The Guard is an updated interpretation of a good ol’ western; with modern day cowboys and indians shooting it out for supremacy in the wild west of Ireland.

I guess that should be Native Americans.

Ah, feck it anyway.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

August 2011