The Guard: It’s not long into this film before we realise just how unorthodox the behaviours are of Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) when he disturbs a crime scene by taking some pieces of paper out of a dead man’s mouth and comments: “Ah, from the bible. I knew there’d be a fuckin’ religious angle!”, then proceeds to pretend to ‘interfere’ with the corpse just to wind up new recruit, Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan).
Above the dead man is “5½” spray-painted on a wall, but what does it mean?
Aidan comments with a straight face: “There’s a film called 8½… Fellini!”, causing Gerry to look back in amazement. And then came a mention of the Brad Pitt thriller, “Se7en”
They suspect there’s a serial killer about, and a man called Billy Devaney (Owen Sharpe) is in the frame after an anonymous call from Francis Sheehy (Liam Cunningham). At the same time, FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) has come over from the USA, looking for a ship called Annabel Lee with $500m of cocaine on board and all signs point to Sheehy.
Initially, Boyle is racist towards Wendell, coming out with “I thought only black lads were drug dealers?” and when he’s told to apologise, he retorts: “I’m Irish. Racism’s part of my culture.”
We also learn that Boyle is a man who doesn’t have much luck with the ladies and resorts to paying escorts Sinead (Sarah Greene) and Aoife (Dominique McElligott) to do unmentionables to him, a blackmail plot ensues for him to say nothing about a murder of another policeman and, to cap it all, he has to deal with the fact that his mum (Fionnula Flanagan) has terminal cancer.
Overall, I only expected The Guard to be okay, but Gleeson excelled himself and the chemistry between him and Don Cheadle was perfect. There are lots of wonderful comic asides, such as when Boyle is with the escort girls in a hotel on his day off. One shows him her wonderbra and says, “I have very small breasts.” He replies: “It’s okay, I have a very small penis.”
The question has to be asked: Why does Liam Neeson get all the plaudits as an Irish actor when Gleeson knocks him into a cocked hat?
The cast is also rounded out with the other two men in Sheehy’s gang, Clive Cornell (Mark Strong) and Liam O’Leary (David Wilmot) and it’s a strong cast all round, including an appearance by the gorgeous Katarina Cas as Aiden’s wife Gabriela. Backed up by strong writing and strong direction, what’s not to like?
Presented in 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, there are no flaws with the print and the movie is brilliantly-filmed with great use of the full 2.35:1 widescreen frame. It’s also very colourful, both bold and stark throughout.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, for which I got the 5.1 DTS version, and delivers nothing out of the ordinary for what is a combination of comedy and drama, but it does what it needs to in atmosphere and dialogue and occasionally gunshots and the odd explosion.
The extras are as follows:
- Behind the Scenes featurette (18:29): Clips from the film mixed in with chat from the cast and crew, while also showing on-set banter and work in progress footage.
- Deleted and extended scenes (24:09): 17 scenes which don’t particularly need to go back into the film but make for nice little extras.
- The Second Death (11:11): A short film, also from writer/director John Michael McDonagh, about a man played by Liam Cunningham coming to terms with the death of a child. It also stars fellow The Guard actor David Wilmot as one of the chess players in the pub and Aiden Gillen (The Wire, Queer as Folk) as one of the pool players. A worthy watch. This was filmed in 2000 and it looks like it was shot in Panavision too. I’d have preferred that for The Guard rather than the bog-standard Super 35.
- Outtakes (2:59): Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Trailer (2:03): In 2.35:1 and, for a trailer, it doesn’t spoil things, which is quite a rarity.
Have a look at it here:
The menu mixes clips from the film with a very small piece of looped theme music and the number of chapters is the usual embarrassment from Optimum with a paltry 12 over the 98-minute running time. In addition there’s a series of trailers that come before the main menu. Why do studios do this? Have they forgotten what the extras menu is for? You have to fast-forward through them too, as they’re not chaptered. Total farce. As such, I’m not listing them here.
At least there are English subtitles included.
Running time: 98 minutes
Cat no: OPTBD2702
Released: January 16th 2012
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Producers: Chris Clark, Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe
Screenplay: John Michael McDonagh
Sergeant Gerry Boyle: Brendan Gleeson
FBI agent Wendell Everett: Don Cheadle
Francis Sheehy: Liam Cunningham
Clive Cornell: Mark Strong
Liam O’Leary: David Wilmot
Garda Aidan McBride: Rory Keenan
Eileen Boyle: Fionnula Flanagan
Aoife O’Carroll: Dominique McElligott
Sinead Mulligan: Sarah Greene
Gabriela McBride: Katarina Cas
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.