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The Guard – |

Set amongst the bleakly beautiful windswept landscape of Galway, The Guard is the darkly comic story of an unconventional smalltown cop (Gleeson) reluctantly caught up in the investigation of a drugs ring. Far from becoming a typical buddy-cop movie, The Guard manages to both embrace and subvert the Hollywood odd-couple genre, becoming something much darker and funnier.

Cheadle is wonderfully strait-laced as FBI Agent Wendell Everett, and the supporting cast is also strong, with Flanagan shining as Gleeson’s ailing mother. But it is Gleeson’s portrayal of Sergeant Gerry Boyle that is the film’s driving force. Complex and caustic, Boyle has his own strong yet unique moral compass. A frequenter of prostitutes and not adverse to ‘illegal substances’ once in a while, Boyle is nonetheless a dutiful son and lone keeper of the peace. Whilst unapologetically tackling issues of race, bigotry and a crisis of Irish identity, McDonagh’s script is sharp and peppered with fabulous one-liners.

Although the final act subscribes a little too much to the Die Hard formula of loud bangs and heroism, it is Boyle and his uneasy friendship with Everett that remains at the heart of the narrative. Boyle remains his own man to the end, and as Everett notes: ‘I can’t decide if you’re really, really smart or really, really dumb.’