Review: “The Guard” – Susan Granger

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While there’s murder, corruption and drug trafficking, it is wry comedy that propels this buddy cop/crime caper, set in a tiny port town outside of Galway on the rugged west coast of Ireland.

To call paunchy, beer-guzzling Garda Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) a rowdy, unorthodox rebel would be an understatement. He’s a vulgar, irascible, crotch-grabbing curmudgeon, as his new, young partner, Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan) discovers, while they’re examining a bullet-riddled corpse of a man with Bible pages stuffed in his mouth, a potted plant between his legs and the number “5 ½” written on the wall above him. Apparently, the victim is connected to half a billion dollars in drug-dealing money – but Boyle doesn’t realize that until the arrival of visiting American FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) and the subsequent disappearance of McBride, as reported by his weeping Romanian wife (Katarina Cas).

Meanwhile, willful, whoring Boyle – who describes himself as a “lowly country nobody” – is partnered with strait-laced, disciplined Everett – an odd couple, if ever there was one – as they search the provincial, Gaelic-speaking Connemara region for the ruthless, cocaine-smuggling culprits and Boyle keeps a watchful eye on his dying mum (Fionnula Flanagan).

Written and directed as a first feature by John Michael McDonagh (older brother of “In Bruges” playwright/filmmaker Martin McDonagh), it’s more comedy than thriller, since the bad guys (Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, David Wilmot) are revealed early on and, despite an inexplicable penchant for quoting Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, their demise seems inevitable. So it’s the battling banter between Boyle and Everett that commands attention, along with the growing respect that have for one another.

“I’m Irish,” Boyle explains. “Racism is part of my culture.”

One caution: if you have trouble comprehending the Irish brogue, you may miss much of the dialogue. Isn’t it too bad that films with thick Irish/British dialects don’t have subtitles for American audiences?

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Guard” is an amusingly subversive 7, filled with nasty, impudent Irish humor.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.