The Guard (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 20, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Hilarious and witty! “The Guard” is a a comedy/thriller about an unorthodox Irish police officer and a straightlaced FBI agent from the U.S., having to work together in taking down a drug smuggling operation in Ireland. A comedy full of expletives but avoids the typical mismatched police partner cliche that is seen in American cinema. A wonderful performance from Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye out for in the near future!
TITLE: The Guard
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 96 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Defiition (widescreen 2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (For Pervasive Language, Some Violence, Drug Material and Sexual Content)
Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012
Directed by John Michael McDonagh
Screenplay by John Michael McDonagh
Produced by Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Chris Clark, Andrew Lowe
Executive Producer: Paul Brett, Don Cheadle, Ralph Kamp, Martin McDonagh, David Nash, Tim Smith, Lenore Zerman
Associate Producer: Elizabeth Eves
Music by Calexico
Cinematography by Larry Smith
Edited by Chris Gill
Casting by Jina Kay
Production Design by John Paul Kelly
Art Direction by Lucy van Lonkhuyzen
Costume Design by Elmer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh
Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle
Don Cheadle as FBI agent Wendell Everett
Liam Cunningham as Francis Sheehy
David Wilmot as Liam O’Leary
Rory Keenan as Garda Aidan McBride
Mark Strong as Clive Cornell
Fionnula Flanagan as Eileen Boyle
Dominique McElligott as Aoife O’Carroll
Sarah Greene as Sinead Mulligan
Katarina Cas as Gabriela McBride
Pat Shortt as Colum Hennessey
Darren Healy as Jimmy Moody
Laurence Kinlan as Photographer
Gary Lydon as Garda Inspector Gerry Stanton
THE GUARD is a comedic, fish out of water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two cops (Gleeson and Cheadle) one an unorthodox Irish policeman and the other, a straitlaced FBI agent, must join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.
Back in 2000, Irish filmmaker John Michael McDonagh created a short titled “The Second Death” and his goal was to someday make it into a feature film.
In 2011, McDonagh made his dream come true with the release of “The Guard”, inspired by his short film and starring Brendan Gleeson, “Troy”, “Mission Impossible II”, “Gangs of New York”) and Don Cheadle (“Crash”, “Hotel Rwanda”, “Iron Man 2″).
Since the film’s release, “The Guard” has been nominated and won several awards around the world and has become the most successful independent Irish film of all time in box office receipts.
The film revolves around an unorthodox Irish policeman (the term for policeman in Ireland is “Garda Siochana” for guardian/guard), Sergeant Gerry Boyle. A man who speaks his mind, does what he wants and you never know if he is telling the truth or if he’s lying to you. He has his own style of law enforcement and detective work.
One day, he shows up to a homicide in which a man is left with a bullet into the head and spraypainted is “5 1/2″. Another fellow officer thinks the numbers represent the number of people killed and may be the work of a serial killer.
Meanwhile, with an international drug smuggling gang having made its way to Ireland’s Connemara Gaeltacht, straightlaced FBI agent Wendell Everett is sent to work with the Garda and help capture these drug smugglers. As a big drug deal worth half a billion dollars is to take place in the area.
As Agent Everett is explaining the case of the smugglers, immediately Sgt. Boyle starts questioning Everett with racist remarks. “I thought only Black people and Mexicans are drug smugglers” and immediately they get into an argument in which Agent Everett calls out Boyle’s racist remarks, but the more things come out of Boyle’s mouth, you quickly learn that it is less of being racist but more of being naive (as there are not any Black people in that part of Ireland that Boyle resides in) and his only knowledge of Black people is what he sees on television.
As much as Agent Everett wants to distance himself from Boyle, because Boyle found one of the drug smugglers dead, eventually Agent Everett has to work with Sgt. Boyle.
While the two try to get to know each other despite their racial and country differences, Agent Everett learns quickly that it’s not as easy for a Black man to do an investigation in Ireland especially when many don’t speak English, meanwhile Everett becomes more drawn to the case when he finds out that one of the new Garda police that has transferred to his unit is now missing.
Despite their differences, both men must work together in solving the case and watching each other’s back as they go up against the criminals.
“The Guard” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, the Ireland countryside looks very good, colors at times are vibrant and close-ups are well-done and full of detail. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts but the overall look is a bit soft. But overall, the picture quality for “The Guard” is good but not great.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Guard” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. I did notice a good amount of ambiance from sounds of wind, birds and people in crowded areas. But for the most part, dialogue is clear (although some of the Irish accents may be difficult for some to understand). The film does have its share of action towards the end of the film but for the most part, the film is dialogue and ambiance-driven. It’s a decent lossless soundtrack that is appropriate for this kind of film.
Subtitles are in English and English SDH.
“The Guard” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by John Michael McDonagh and actors Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.
- Making of the Guard – (19:21) Featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the film and interview with the filmmaker and cast.
- The Second Death – (11:20) Director John Michael McDonagh’s original short film which “The Guard” was inspired form.
- Outtakes – (3:05) Featuring outtakes from “The Guard”.
- Q&A with Don Cheadle, Brennan Gleason and Director John Michael McDonagh – (18:08) A Q&A held at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
- Deleted Scenes – (6:07) Featuring three deleted scenes: “Boyle has champagne with prostitutes”, “Everett Tries to Clear the Air between Boyle & Stanton” and “Boyle Walking with Gabriela”.
- Extended and Alternate Scenes – (18:32) Featuring twelve extended/alternate scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:18) The original theatrical trailer for “The Guard”.
A delightful and profanity-laced film that is unique and entertaining!
“The Guard” is one of those films that doesn’t follow the typical banality of Black cop working with another cop from another country. Actor Brendan Gleeson’s character of Sergeant Gerry Boyle is what makes this film much more enjoyable because the things that come out of Boyle’s mouth is surprising and you can’t help but laugh because you know that things that comes out of his mouth is ignorant but you know he is quite a naive man.
When Agent Everett is offended by Boyle’s racist remarks, Boyle responds with, “I’m Irish. Racism is part of my culture.”
Even the exchanges between him and the two prostitutes he spends time with is surprising. In one scene, he finds out a woman is wearing a push-up bra and she replies “Now, you can see my small tits” and Boyle responds with, “Don’t worry because I have a small dick”. This is the kind of wit that Boyle has and the things that come out of his mouth, makes you wonder about Sgt. Boyle. As Agent Everett tells him straight out, “You either are f$@%@n’ stupid or really f$@%@n’ very smart”. And Everett replies with a smirk. You don’t know if he’s trying to be offensive or is quite clueless, but his way…his style of detective work, it works for Boyle amazingly well that he is able to find out where the drug deal is taking place.
While the film focuses on Boyle and the way he does his detective work, the partnership that these two men avoid the typical “Rush Hour” or “Beverly Hills Cop” style of banter between races. Agent Everett is straight-laced, comes from a great family background and despite being good at his job, he’s literally a fish out of water in Ireland and knows he’s not going to get much help from anyone else (it’s a statement that in other countries that don’t have association or familiarity with Black people, many will not talk to you). So, working with Boyle is his only chance of catching these criminals.
As for the Blu-ray release, “The Guard” features good PQ and AQ and also including a good number of special features. As a Sony Pictures Classics Blu-ray release, I noticed that they didn’t go with the usual Blu-ray+DVD Combo pack for this title.
If anything, I wouldn’t watch this film with children in the room. While there is violence, the film has pervasive mature language and the F-bomb is used a lot! And I have to admit, the vulgarity and outrageous comments at times, is what made this film quite delightful and made the character of Sgt. Boyle so fascinating. “The Guard” features a wonderful performance from Brendan Gleeson and director John Michael McDonagh is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye out for in the near future!
Overall, there is no doubt that John Michael McDonagh has created a wonderful, witty and delightful and hilarious film. “The Guard” is not your typical mismatched partners and the typical cliche outbursts that we typically see in American cinema. But I think that is what makes “The Guard” so much more intriguing because it is an Irish comedy/thriller.
If you are looking for something different, something fun… “The Guard” is a delightful film worth checking out!
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