Once in a while, there are those little-heard-of films that you come across that becomes a joy to behold and a treasure to know. Well, for once, you can discover one in the cinema rather than at home on TV/DVD years after its initial release...
2008 saw the wonderfully wacky and very un-pc In Bruges starring Gleeson as a moody, melancholy hitman hiding out in small city Bruges, written and directed by McDonagh. Now, 3 years later McDonagh's brother has written and directed a wonderfully wacky and quite un-pc film starring Gleeson as a moody, melancholy policeman living out his days in small-town Ireland. There's a pattern there somewhere...
From the outset, you pretty much know all you need to know about Gleeson's character as he picks through the corpses of drug-taking, car-crashing youths, taking the evidence away to spare the parents any extra shame whilst pocketing some for himself of course. World weary but very clinically-aware of all around him like an Irish Columbo, this is a policeman who knows all but hides that knowledge unless it's necessary, and not too much trouble.
Essentially, what you have here is a cross between Father Ted and Lethal Weapon. The ribbing at small town Ireland culture and its inhabitants is straight out of Craggy Island - even Tom from the TV series has a part as a stetson-wearing, VW bug-driving guy who says the IRA only had gays so that they could infiltrate MI5 and always forgets that the engine is in the back of his car. Laugh-out-loud cringe lines like that crop up frequently throughout - Gleeson in the middle of a briefing from the FBI agent stating that he thought that only black people and Mexicans are drug dealers and when told that he's being racist comes back with "but I'm Irish, racism is part of my culture!"
The films double act comes in the guise of Cheadle who thankfully plays an American this time so there's no need for any of his questionable accents - Oceans 11 trilogy anyone? It's his frequently grounded and astounded reaction to Gleeson's comments that gives the film a lot of its comic edge, along with every ones disappointment that he's with the drugs division of the FBI and not the behavioural section. The other strong laughs come from Strong himself who, here, has a remarkable go at an eloquently-minded criminal who says that there's nothing in the small print when he signed up to be a criminal thug that says he has to do manual labour.
Despite it's small-time feel to it, The Guard, through great characters and wonderful dialogue, manages to feel so much more than a direct-to-TV movie which some could mistake it for if they didn't watch it. This helps it to pull off it's truly cheer-out-loud Gibson & Glover-esque finale involving the main characters in a "didn't see that one coming" ending.
UK release date: 19.08.11