Direction: John Michael McDonagh
Script: John Michael McDonagh
Acting: Ronan Collins, Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle
Duration: 96 min
In Ireland the police department works in a slightly different kind of way. Irish Sergeant Gerry Boyle is the living proof. His personality is quite incompatible with the typical social forms. Raised in Ireland by a strong minded, down-to-earth, sweet woman, who is now struggling by a deadly disease, Gerry finds himself in a daily boring situation of dealing with typical criminals.
Gerry and his unconventional character are everything in this film. Not because it emerges the limitless talent of Brendan Gleeson, but mostly because it depicts how sick of his boring police life Gerry is.
Yes Gerry is a good Sergeant, corrupted to the bone but good (don’t ask how this is possible, it is). He appears to be quite smart when it comes to solving cases and crimes, but he is completely antisocial and brutal with the rest of the world. With the Irish temperament thriving throughout the film, McDonagh has given a well structured story of a pure antihero.
The basic element, that from the first shot shows the level this film wants to reach, is the dialogues with countless references in literature, cinema and history (Lars Von Trier, Polanski, Fellini, Nietzsche etc.). The used vocabulary reforms the whole initial feeling by letting you understand that Gerry is no dumb fellow. And either he feels that his job is less important than that of a teacher.
The “fair game” that is being told here feels a little weird, there is no such thing as “fair game” in Ireland, as simple as that. The humorous veil that has covered the whole story has made the action parts and the escalation of the plot quite magnificent. In many basic scenes things are happening, but you don’t even realize them. There is no music to prepare you; there is no introduction to it. You just watch pure action.
You cannot ignore the amazing, full of chromatic contrasts, photography that gives an extra pinch of vibration to the whole result. I won’t forget the music score by Calexico, the American indie rock band that gave this extra ironic element into the plot. Each scene in “The Guard”, we could say, has a political coloration, some comments, some actions are politically charged. Combining all of this together, with the detached, remote I would say, direction of McDonagh, you have a vigorous comedy crime movie.
Gerry is not a common Irish lad, or maybe he is with the impolite sincerity of his character, but what makes him quite extraordinary is his real devotion to the ultimate good. He might be corrupted, he might not respect his supervisors or even his own profession, but he surely knows how to fight till the end with pure guts.
The director here puts clearly on the table the meaning of heroism, but what he actually does in an evocative way, is to recreate and reinvent the term. Gerry is not a typical guy and definitely he is not a typical Sergeant. He knows that his life has reached the swamp, he cannot go further, and he must act.
He redefines himself through his actions. Reckless one might think, because of the way he does it, but in the end he proves not only to be smart to escape his own misery, but also to fool the rest of the people that he was actually dumb. Only the FBI agent Wendell Everett will realize his genius mind and finally respect him, after the innocent rivalry that thrived in between them, and gave an extra comedy stigma.