Irish comedy about two policemen who must join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang – one, an unorthodox Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) and the other, a straitlaced FBI agent (Don Cheadle). Opens nationwide on Thursday, click for movie times and more info.
Screenwriting guru William Goldman writes, rather beautifully, of first encountering intrepid detective Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in the Coen brothers’ classic, Fargo. “I felt a sense of peace,” he says. For one thing, McDormand was married to Joel Coen, so “no way he offs his wife”. For another, “I was going to spend another hour with one of the major movie characters of the decade… I just wanted to be along for the ride.”
The same is true of Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) of the Irish police force, although he’s a good deal less wholesome than Marge – in fact, we first meet him tripping his nuts off on confiscated acid. Gleeson’s not romantically linked with writer-director John Michael McDonagh either, although he did bring the same bear-like charm to In Bruges by McDonagh’s brother, Martin, so close enough.
Like a light-hearted Lethal Weapon in reverse, The Guard teams Gleeson’s corner-cutting hick with Don Cheadle’s uptight FBI officer Wendell Everett with genial, often laugh-out-loud results. Chugging pills and visiting prostitutes, while retaining a twinkly-eyed appeal, Boyle scoffs at his partner’s professional eagerness. Everett, meanwhile, can scarcely believe Boyle’s questionable methods, but soon wonders whether he’s as stupid (or racist, or dishonest, or crass) as he appears.
Although it may sound a touch over-familiar – and the open-and-shut smuggling case they face certainly is – the film’s more interested in spending quality time with this unlikely pair than solving crimes. Thanks to McDonagh’s sparkling script and some charming central performances, you will be too.