The Guard: Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle as Mismatched Cops

This shaggy-man character study follows a 50-something policeman in western Ireland, Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson). No by-the-book cop, Boyle spends his days off romping with hookers, and has no qualms about gulping MDMA from the pockets of a freshly dead teenager—he also displays a proletarian literary bent, visits his ailing mum to cheer her with pained jocularity, and, unlike his better-turned-out colleagues, holds himself to an unorthodox-but-unbendable code of honor. As an FBI agent visiting to intercept a massive drug drop, Don Cheadle is on hand to straight-man and to instruct the audience to grudgingly appreciate Boyle for what he is, despite his racial ribbing of the Don Rickles, all-in-good-fun school. ("I'm Irish, sir, racism is a part of me culture," Boyle announces.) One senses that The Guard is director John Michael McDonagh's eulogy for the brusque, warts-and-all character of a passing generation of tough, working-class Irishmen, much as Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino was for vintage Americanism. But his film eschews any pretense of social reality for cinematographic fancifulness and too-clever-by-half dialogue, much of it from a trio of drug smugglers livening up Boyle's jurisdiction with homicides. As Cheadle drifts around a vaguely thought-through role, The Guard bets everything on Gleeson's boyish twinkle—and tends to overestimate its own raffish charm.

 
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