x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

An unlikely pairing makes The Guard a treat of a film

Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle give excellent performances in this farcical Irish comedy.

The Guard 
Director: John Michael McDonagh 
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong 
*****

Cop dramas have a habit of sticking "unlikely" figures together for "hilarious consequences", but none come quite so unlikely as The Guard's Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, who, added to a west Ireland backdrop that rarely strays from farcical, have helped create an absolute treat of a film.

When Cheadle's straight-talking Ivy League FBI agent Wendell Everett lands in County Galway to mount an operation against a drug-smuggling ring, he is teamed up with Gleeson's rather unorthodox policeman Gerry Boyle. Lurking somewhere between Bad Lieutenant and Police Chief Wiggum, Boyle is a kidlike law-enforcer who pinches dope from crash victims and enjoys somewhat nefarious activities on his days off, often while dressed in a garish dressing gown.

However, he also boasts a Poirot-level of insight and, amid a police force full of cops on the fiddle, becomes a canny, if rather stubborn and slovenly, crime-fighting companion. While a tremendous creation played in Gleeson's unmistakably casual manner, Boyle isn't the film's only comical figure.

Led by Mark Strong, the smugglers are a laughably unusual bunch; maniacal and trigger-happy, but also at ease squabbling over the finer points of philosophy. And for all his slick, sharp-suited demeanour, it's difficult not to warm to Everett, whose attempts to maintain the level of respect an FBI agent might receive at home are met with mockery and derision (usually by Boyle).

The plot might not be extraordinary, but The Guard is a wonderful film, boasting colourful characters, colourful language and west Ireland as a hugely colourful setting. You'll just wish all cop duos were this good.

aritman@thenational.ae