Don Cheadle plays straight man to Brendan Gleeson's Irish Bigot.

The Guard

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis



            Aside from a dire need for sub-titles for the Gaelic English language, The Guard is a nice ride. Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is an eccentric cop who has used his own peculiar moral code to patrol his town in County Galway for a long while. Shortly into the movie, Gerry's small time small town becomes the landscape for murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and corruption. This explosion of evil deeds brings American FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) to rural Connemara in the line of duty.
            You can imagine the conflict that rises like steam when Gerry and Wendell meet. Wendell is the duty driven American, prepared for every inch of his job by a Harvard education, a privileged upbringing, and his personal dedication to duty - and Gerry - well you already know Gerry just a little. Gerry bristles with resentment at the fastidious intruder. After years of being boss of his own turf, Gerry has no interest in helping Wendell solve his big case. With only FBI duty on his mind, Wendell doesn't care a fig for Gerry or his unimportant town in County Galway. His big time case has brought him to this country hamlet and he will remain single mindedly dedicated to finding the drug smuggling, murderers who are his target. Neither has a whit of respect for the other.
            You must know by now that two uncomfortably paired companions will navigate a rocky road to friendship, showing only their worst selves to each other along the way. Gerry's weakness for drink and hookers infuriates the straight laced Wendell. His bigotry - "I'm Irish, Sir. Racism is part of my culture" doesn't help and he's not beyond stealing drugs from the pocket of a murder victim. Gerry has no respect for his superiors or the police code and now the presence of the perfectly pressed Wendell is simply an additional annoyance, an interruption of the life he has devised for himself.
            But here's the thing about this particular Irishman. As we've begun to suspect, when Gerry's own code is broken - by a hooker, by a drug smuggler, his deeper self will be offended. So done, the ground is ready for a Gerry/Wendell truce. When their interests begin to coincide after a prolonged cold war, peace may be at hand.
            The plot is thoroughly predictable but plot isn't the point of this movie; Character is. Don Cheadle plays straight man to Brendan Gleeson's obstinate Irish bigot. The film has been written and directed by Michael McDonough as a one character play with Gleeson bumping into an odd assortment of supporting players. The director's great good luck is that Brendan Gleeson is up to the carrying the movie. His straight faced expression rarely gives away what's taking place in his quirky brain. Will or won't this fellow overcome his natural inclinations enough to help his humorless new partner Wendell Everett? Take a guess.

 


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