*** (out of four)
Look up “Taking the piss” in an urban dictionary and you’ll probably see a picture of Sergeant Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), a cop who’s neither by the book nor full-on corrupt. He’s also a pain in the butt to FBI agent Everett (Don Cheadle), who comes to Ireland to investigate a drug trafficking operation’s movement of $500 million in cocaine—an emphasis on “street value” that Boyle thinks is crap.
The buzz: You want a movie with attitude? “The Guard” has it to spare thanks to the script by director John Michael McDonagh, brother of “In Bruges” writer/director Martin McDonagh. And if you need an actor to play a salty Irishman who can still convincingly demonstrate love for his dying mother as he’s busting her balls, Gleeson’s definitely your guy.
The verdict: “The Guard” gains reality points for unfolding at the slow pace of crime and police work, but that’s also why the movie never fully takes off. Doesn’t matter. Boyle’s a badass fountain of snappy lines (one favorite, as he walks into the station: “Big map. People pointing. Must be important.”). “The Guard” does nothing if not prove that a crime flick usually succeeds when led by two great actors playing strong characters. Speaking of strong, though; the omnipresent Mark Strong (“The Green Lantern,” “The Eagle,” “The Way Back,” “Robin Hood,” “Kick-Ass,” “Sherlock Holmes”) turns up as one of the villains, and he’s the only cast member without comic timing. Time for a name change, sir.
Did you know? Boyle tells Everett that all babies look the same unless they’re ugly. I don’t think that’s true, but even if it is, some things ya just don’t say to a guy who just had a kid.
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