“The Guard” is an Irish buddy film featuring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, both wonderful character actors who have played a range of roles from the very sympathetic to menacing and scary. Gleeson is the local police sergeant and Cheadle is the sharp FBI agent who has come to this small town on the west coast of Ireland to investigate drug trafficking.
The story is uncomplicated without a lot of suspense. It has murders, police corruption, half a billion dollars in drug shipments, beat up hookers, and really bad guys playing off of Gleeson’s and Cheadle’s good guys.
The story is really about the characters, particularly Gleeson’s. He is lonely and by no means a hero. His sense of law and order is casual and understated. He is a committed fool, with integrity who loves his dying mam. You are never quite sure whether he is very stupid or…very smart, indeed.
Cheadle is partnered with Gleeson, and he becomes Gleeson’s foil. There is much humor at the expense of African-American urban clichés, and Cheadle is no Chris Rock. He is polished, articulate, and so thoroughly transcends racial stereotypes, that the small town Irish view of racial patterns and big city drug use are funny and diffused. Their repartee is more sly and hilarious than offensive.
Throughout it all, Gleeson remains a mystery of sorts, and it does not help that the Irish brogue spoken in the village makes English a second language.
The movie’s end wraps nicely and is satisfying. We see strength in the bond of these two very different men, and in the integrity of Gleeson’s character. I recommend the movie.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and long-time film-aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has shifted his focus to reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.