Complete A-Z list

Guard, The


Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, Katerina Cas, Rory Keenan, Fionnula Flanagan, Sarah Greene, Dominique McElligott, David Wilmot, Pat Shortt

Director: John Michael McDonaugh

Somewhere between Ealing comedy and hard-cursing drama comes this delightful, slightly quirky offering with almost as many drolly funny lines as four-letter words. Gleeson ripely excels as an unorthodox, seemingly bull-at-a-gate Irish policeman, Gerry Boyle, whom we meet calmly surveying the carnage after five joy-riders are killed crashing a stolen car, then taking drugs off one 'because his mam wouldn't like it', pausing to sample a pill for himself.

Finding a corpse, his first reaction is to ask his newly-arrived colleague, McBride (Keenan) if there's any money in the house. Turns out the dead man was one of four drug smugglers expecting a huge shipment of cocaine which an FBI agent (Cheadle) arrives to put a stop to.

Things get (a bit) more serious when McBride stops the smugglers in the road and gets shot for his pains. His widow (Cas), reporting him missing, finds Gerry in his underpants expecting a different kind of girl. 'I thought you were from the agency,' he tells her. 'Excuse me while I slip into something less comfortable.'

After taking day off from the case for a romp with two prostitutes and a visit with his dying mother (Flanagan), Gerry loses no chance to rile the American cop with racist remarks. Told of the latter's skiing holiday, he retorts: 'I thought black people couldn't ski. Or was that swimming?'

Gradually, of course, a camaraderie is struck between the pair, as things move towards a climax. But, even in the (rather moderate) action shoot-out at the end, the screenplay has a tartly witty remark up its sleeve. And the open ending, at one time almost a cliché in films, is for once exactly right. All, in all, a most promising feature debut for its director.

David Quinlan

Ireland 2011. UK Distributor: Optimum. Technicolor.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 14 Aug 2011