When a small Irish community becomes a staging area for a trio of notorious serial killers it is up to local guard Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) to stop them. A bluntly spoken officer who knows exactly how far he can bend the law for his own self satisfaction without it breaking. He is however aided by an officer of the FBI (Don Cheadle) who wants nothing more than to follow the rule book. I sense awkwardness!
The film has an incredibly simple premise: cops and robbers, and the enjoyment comes from Gleeson’s character Gerry and watching how he copes with the escalating dangers he faces here. At times he seems bumbling, other times he seems derailed (like the Irish version of Nicolas Cage’s character in Bad Lieutenant) but ultimately, through the dialogue with Cheadle’s character, we see he is actually a very smart and talented police officer.
The villains are cardboard cut outs, with type-cast Mark Strong and Liam Cunningham providing all the antagonizing but few laughs. Gerry Boyle’s story slows down with the subplot of his ageing and dying mother, which while it does give his character more humanity (and less like a complete sociopath) and give the finale more punch, it ultimately felt a little tacked on.
Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle’s scenes are great, and the climax of the movie is rewarding enough, the film itself falling between Hot Fuzz and In Bruges. It isn’t perfect; the film’s comedy relies heavily upon Irish jokes and Cheadle’s “fish-out-of-water” African American. If you are well versed in this sort of thing, you might find The Guard a bore, but I enjoyed it for the most part.