by Daniel Engelke
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When expectations are as expected.
When I saw the trailer for John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard, I was puzzled. On one hand, the film could be a reinvention of the buddy-cop film with two great actors, Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson. On the other hand, though, it could be utterly stereotypical and redundant…
The Guard tells the story of an unorthodox Irish cop, Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), and his investigation into an international drug ring. Happening upon a rather peculiar murder scene, Boyle and his new partner, Aiden, believe it to be the work of a serial killer. The two only later find out the victim is traced to a dangerous drug trafficking group.
The plot becomes saucy when the F.B.I. steps in and pairs their by-the-books agent, Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) with bad boy Boyle. Writing the Irishman off as senseless and a little insane, Everett goes alone as he searches for leads. Meanwhile, Boyle conducts his own unusual investigation of the drug ring after Aiden disappears. When neither yield results, will the two put down their differences to help solve the case?
I’m not sold on The Guard as a comedy. Though the film allows much room for comedic elements and events, the unfounded, and at times uninteresting, characters’ quips rarely hit the mark. What you really see in The Guard is intelligence over wit.
An amusing example of this arises when the drug smugglers are arguing the true birth places of notable European theorists. Well-constructed and cerebral, the film rarely returns to this intellectual height.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with The Guard is its marketing. Billed as a Northern England buddy-cop movie, the trailer suggests many moments of racy dialogue about an interracial friendship. Unlike the East meets West element in the popular Rush Hour trilogy or the grit and wit of Snatch, the U.K. import fails to find a strong gimmick to run on.
Daniel Engelke is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Film & Video program. He resides in New York as a freelance writer and videographer. With expertise in French & British New Wave Cinema and Italian Neo-Realism, Daniel also works as a director and intern for Edward Bass Films.
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