A Brief Look at The Guard (2011)

Who ever thought the following words would be uttered: Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are comedy gold ?

The fact is they are in The Guard, an independent Irish film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. Brendan Gleeson is the guard in a town on the west coast of Ireland. Our introduction to Boyle’s method of policing (and life in general) is, shall we say, a bit unorthodox. Whether it is pilfering drugs off of recent accident victims, or inappropriately handling corpses, Sgt. Boyle is not anyone you would want on your beat.

A recent murder in the area is revealed to be part of a larger drug smuggling operation that has international implications. The FBI, represented by Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), is called in to assist the locals with the operation. They are looking for three men they suspect are involved in the trafficking a boatload of missing narcotics. Add to that the disappearance of a local officer, and our boys have their hands full.

After a rather rough start Boyle and Everett establish a tenuous camaraderie, which comes in handy by the time the film reaches its climax.

For the role of Sgt. Boyle, Gleeson has been nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Actor (Comedy or Musical). In the role of the straight man that is also a fish out of water, Don Cheadle delivers. Cheadle is no stranger to comedy, but he hits the mark in this film, which showcases his versatility. Rounding out the talented cast are Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong and Fionnula Flanagan.

With a complex blend of raunchiness, humor, drama, tragedy, (very) foul language and brief flashes of violence, one of these elements could easily get lost in a film that runs just shy of 100 minutes. But the McDonagh aptly finds that balance to give the audience a satisfyingly entertaining film.


  1. I saw this when it was in the cinema a while back. I loved it. Thought it was very funny.

    I use the comparison of Father Ted meets Hot Fuzz, but if you haven’t seen Father Ted, then this will be lost on you.


    • Have not seen Father Ted in years … they showed it on public television here in the States. But from what I can remember of it, I see where you are coming from …

      Yeah I have been sitting on this piece for a while – sped up by the LAMB Acting School 101 Subject of the month, Don Cheadle. I figured that the year is wrapping up so I better post something about it.

      The DVD comes out here next Tuesday so I guess it is a rather timely posting.

  2. Only film of the year that made me laugh out loud all the time! Loved it. Gleeson is the best.

    • I definitely think that this could of translated well in the States. But it came and went like a shot. Hopefully it will have a life of sorts in home viewing.


  1. […] The Guard (2011): One of my favorite films of 2011; seen by way too few folks. […]

  2. […] Simply stated this is an amazing debut for the Turner Prize winner; he handles the film with a level of confidence that you would expect in someone very experienced. For me this is a perfect example of cinema as an art form. Hunger features Michael Fassbender (in his breakthrough performance) and Liam Cunningham (The Guard). […]

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