Brendan Gleeson feels like he has been on the fringe of a recognisable, great actor for a while now. He is a solid, go-to character actor for both British and American movies. He has put in fantastic performances in movies such as Gangs of New York, Braveheart and Troy but is never more than a “co-star” or supporting actor.
The Guard more than proves he can hold a movie and actually improve the material by being the lead. He plays a policeman in a small Irish town who has a relaxed, lax attitude to police work, even facing a dead body as more of an inconvenient burden than a crime that actually needs investigating. The first twenty minutes of the movie gives Gleeson the chance to show-off his dejected character, with wise-cracks and great put-downs that show-off some great writing.
The rest of the movie partners him with Don Cheadle and the chemistry between the two is just as good. Cheadle wants to do things by the book but doesn’t understand Irish culture, while Gleeson is clearly out of his depth chasing a murderous, international drug smuggling gang. It makes for some great humour and very funny moments.
It isn’t just down to Cheadle and Gleeson’s characters to provide the humour. There are funny moments throughout the movie, provided from the Irish community that Cheadle tries to interact with, as well as the bad guys themselves, led by the equally underrated Liam Cunningham from Game of Thrones.
It also contains some very dramatic moments as well. The killings are as graphic as expected and Gleeson’s policeman has some issues of his own to deal with. These all come to a head very well in a brilliantly shot, dramatic climax that I won’t spoil here.
This is much more of a dark comedy than a dramatic, action packed movie though and its here that the film excels. It has a dark vein of humour throughout and this can be attributed to Gleeson more than any other character. He is clearly having fun with the ignorant, stubborn but slyly heroic policeman and it makes for a very entertaining movie.
Overall, The Guard is the Brendan Gleeson show and he takes the reigns fantastically. He creates a funny, sly but heroic character, in amongst many other very funny characters. The story isn’t exactly twist-filled or dynamic but this is a character piece and the pairing of Gleeson and Cheadle is enough to watch the movie for on its own.
Rating – 4
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