reviewed by Tom-Tom
Brendon Gleeson certainly has a resume. He’s memorable in every role he plays but is often shunted to the side for the task of leading man. For the all too few chances to see him at the forefront of a film, it is pleasure to watch Gleeson in “The Guard.” This disarming term may make one imagine a bouncer or security guard figure but it is the translation of the law enforcement of the Irish Republic. You can see a more in depth view of their responsibilities in the Irish TV cop drama “Single-Handed.” They have a sort of Constable-like status most of the time much like Japanese police officers in Police Boxes several population checkpoints in Japan. While Americans may see police cars with a sort of dread, “Oh he’s gonna catch me for speeding or running a red light” Irish and Japanese see them as helpers and often ask them for directions etc.
Brendon Gleeson blows away this image in seconds at the beginning of “The Guard.” His character Sergeant Gerry Boyle uses drugs seized from the still warm corpse of a joyriding youth who crashes his car killing all inside. He swears at the cloudy weather and the titles come on in accompanied by exuberant Latin music. A murder occurs and a fresh from Dublin officer meets Gleeson on the scene who promptly violates the crime scene and the corpse in ways I’ll leave you to enjoy.
It soon becomes apparent that the homicide is part of a deeper mystery tied with drugs. The higher echelon of the Gardai aided by an FBI Agent played by Don Cheadle, has summoned all ranking Gardai to Galway for a presentation of great significance. Seemingly a living train wreck (though not without intelligence), Boyle lets loose some untoward remarks about usual suspects in the War on Drugs.
The suspects in this case are no joke. They wax philosophical while quoting various passages from Bertrand Russell and Nietzsche and summarily murder execution style a traffic Garda. It is nice seeing Mark Strong and Liam Cunningham play a slightly comic role. Cheadle has a rough time with the locals as they follow their own code of tight-lipped omerta speaking Gaelic to baffle the poor guy. It must have been baffling for the townsfolk for a FBI agent to show up at their door in the first place.
Our Garda seems to have more depth than appears. He’s a doting son and an adventurous romantic. He takes his potty mouthed yet charming terminally ill mother out for live music. He has ties to the IRA and splurges on the occasional paid three way with cosplaying nubile ladies. The rest of the film isn’t overly complex or dramatic. There is a lot of comedy along the way. The writing is quite snappy. The showdown at the end has an almost Western quality. Everyone jokes around about the hiring of henchmen and shootouts in America but the action is solid and entertaining.