I should preface this review by saying I love a good action comedy, Midnight Run is way up there on my list of all-time favorites. They occupy a wonderful soft spot in my heart, i can even watch terrible Martin Lawrence ones for hours on end. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it feels like it's been a long time since there has been a damn good one out in cinemas.
So when I walked in to the Egyptian to watch The Guard, I must say that for some reason I was expecting this to be a nuanced little english comedy about small irish towns. You know some bullshit like An Everlasting Piece, likeable with some moments, but something ultimately forgettable. What we got was the best action comedy to hit in a long time, probably the best thing since In Bruges. Which I guess shouldn't be a surprise since The Guard is written and directed by John Michael Mcdonagh, the brother of Martin Mcdonagh. Prior to this John Michael only had a short film credit that I hadn't seen and was listed as a writer on the very bland Gregor Jordan Ned Kelly movie.
The Guard follows the goings-on of a career small-town police-man played by Brendan Gleeson. He's not about rocking the boat, he likes to go about his day as easy-going as possible. When he gets a young new partner similar to Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz trying to bring a bit more police work to his day as they investigate a murder in the town. Things get even more complicated when an FBI agent played by Don Cheadle enters the picture on the trail of a half a billion dollar drug bust.
Oh and did I forget to mention that Brendan Gleeson's character is a drug addicted, prostitute loving, racist as all hell, lovable nutjob? Seriously his character gives Nick Cage in Bad Lieutenant a run for his maniac-money, but the thing about Gleeson is you can't not love the guy. Don Cheadle is so darn good in this, his role mainly consists of being the straight-man to Gleeson's lunatic/dimwit and spends a good portion of the movie being mildly to grossly offended by everything Gleeson does, but ever the more being forced to deal with him as everything seems to be happening in his neck of the woods. The supporting cast in it is also top-notch, Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong play the drug-running baddies. Particularly Irish actress Fionnula Flannagan, who has some great scene-stealing moments as Sergeant Boyle's mother.
For the most part the film is a light-hearted Bad Lieutenant'ish crime comedy, but at a certain point when Boyle clenches his arms around an AK-47 it doesn't let up and it certainly doesn't disappoint from then on out.
John Michael Mcdonagh possesses the same gift for piecing together the most vulgar profanity laced comedy scenes that his brother has. I hate making such an easy comparison, but some scenes in this could easily have been found in In Bruges and vice versa, it very much feels like the same world, but a whole different story. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. If you enjoyed Ralph Fiennes fuck-laden phone calls or Colin Farrell's offensive midget scenes in "In Bruges" then I think you will enjoy The Guard every bit as much as I did.
The Guard isn't anything that is going change cinema or make anyone's top ten of the decade, but it's a hell of a lot of fucking fun and it cements Brendan Gleeson as a cinema badass, it also manages to get Don Cheadle to fire a machine gun and not in a fucking cgi suit. I'm now excited for anything anyone named Mcdonagh does, that family can do no wrong in my eyes.
Sundance 2011 is up and going! Okay I gotta just stop writing and go to sleep, it's 2:30 in the morning and I have a 9AM screening to go to!