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Guardian, The


Stars: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown, Sela Ward, John Heard

Director: Andrew Davis

A tribute to the rescue swimmers of the US Coastguard is certainly the chrysalis of a novel idea, but it's pretty much a routine action film that emerges.

Ben (Costner) is a veteran swimmer assigned to dry land after a helicopter explosion during a routine rescue kills his entire crew. Ben's put in charge of hopeful trainees, who include cocky swim champ Jake (Kutcher). 'We all know you're a legend an' all,' says Jake, setting out to beat Ben's records.

Ben, though, proves a hard taskmaster, even as he continues to have cold-sweat nightmares about the past. 'Your wife left you,' grates his CO (Brown). 'Your best friend died. You sound like a goddam country song. If you had a dog it would have got run over.'

Well, Ashton comes through and Kev retires - 'You can't always be the one in the water, Ben' - but, just as he's leaving the station for the last time, word comes through that Ashton's in trouble. They need a swimmer and it's our Kev...

The leads grit their teeth and go through the familiar motions. But Sagemiller has warmth as Kutcher's teacher girlfriend, and the action is very well choreographed and edited, if inevitably repetitive in a film of this length. The script, though, as the quotes might indicate, is well and truly waterlogged.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Buena Vista. Technicolor.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 10 Oct 2006