The Guard

Last Updated: April 29, 2012By Tags: , ,

What’s a veteran Irish cop to do?

There he is, tending to his rounds of bar fights and domestic disturbances, stealing drugs off of car wreck victims, indulging in lovely imported visitors from “the agency,” thinking nothing of selling the IRA back their lost-and-found weapons.

His sleepy coastal town isn’t the first place that you would suspect for a major drug deal to take place in. But that’s what it’s come to. An international drug ring is running its goods through the town. It’s so big that it attracts an African-American FBI agent (Don Cheadle), whom Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) delights in engaging with racially-tinged deadpan banter.

Boyle Is a fabulous character to follow, a man who skimps on small moral matters but whose heart is in the right place on the big ones. His encyclopedic knowledge of his village grapevine plays out against the sophistication of the FBI.

Director John Michael McDonagh borrows Gleeson from his brother Martin (director of In Bruges) and gets a whale of a comic performance from him. He has different shades and levels in a way that an American comedy character would never have. Outside of the winning performances, McDonagh also gives us something comedies are often too afraid to give, a unique look borne of the village in which it is set.

It’s a natural comedy, arriving from character and place rather than forced situations. It comes from villagers who watch too much American television, philosophical criminals who cite Nietzsche as they shoot victims. At times, it might get caught up a little too much in Wes Anderson weirdness and homages to spaghetti westerns. For the most part, it’s a satisfying dark buddy cop action-comedy–a new genre, so to speak?

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