Atlantic Film Festival, Day Six: ‘The Guard’

The Guard

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Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh

2011, Ireland

Talent is said to run in families. This certainly seems to be the case in the McDonagh family. Martin McDonagh’s 2008 ultra-black and extremely raunchy comedy In Bruges was an unlikely success. Now his brother, John Martin McDonagh, has written and directed his own movie, The Guard. The film proves that talent is not the only thing that runs in the McDonagh family. A love for their home country, Ireland and extremely dark humour are just two of the things that the two brothers’ movies have in common.

The Guard tells the story of Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), an out-of-control Irish cop who gets paired with straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) on a mission to take down a multi-million dollar drug gang. To complete the picture, add a lot of swearing, quite a bit of racism and a couple of hookers. Brendan Gleeson’s character is basically an older version of Colin Farrell’s character from In Bruges, and he proves he can play that character as well.

What made In Bruges so great was the perfect combination of the two mismatched hit men being stuck in Bruges together. Both the way they were written and the performances by Gleeson and that film’s Farrell made them an absolute delight to watch on screen. The Guard has Don Cheadle in the straight man role, and although he is certainly not bad, he is not given enough to do and say to be memorable. Most of the time it feels like he is in the wrong movie, and both he and Gleeson’s character could do better with a different partner.

If you have seen In Bruges, you know exactly what kind of comedy you’re going to be in for. Gleeson especially plays his rather offensive character with a great deadpan delivery. An absolutely hilarious part of the film is the trio of would be drug king pins played by Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot and resident bad guy, Mark Strong. Completely unhinged, they put a nice little spin on what we are normally used to from movie criminals.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, John Michael McDonagh has crafted a crime film that is both funny and suspenseful with an ending that leaves us guessing. Though lacking the chemistry of Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell from In Bruges and a little bit of Martin McDonagh’s razor sharp tongue, John Michael McDonagh proves that these two brothers’ future work is worth anticipating.

Laura Holtebrinck

Info on these films an more can be found at: http://www.atlanticfilm.com/aff/

 


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