Your typical cinematic cop tends to fall into one of three basic categories: corrupt, by-the-book, or somewhere in between, where they break the rules (and suspect’s bones) to get results.
Irish “guard” – policeman – Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) doesn’t fit into any of these subsets. It’s not that he’s a bad cop, per se, but it’s hard to argue he’s a particularly good one. For the most part, he doesn’t give a shit. When he stumbles into an international drug trafficking ring and finds himself working with FBI Agent Everett (Don Cheadle), Boyle seems less interested in “cracking the case” than pestering Everett with questions that are possibly racist, possibly simply mischievous. It’s hard to tell – as Everett says, “I can’t tell if you’re really fucking dumb or really fucking smart.”
The Guard is an erudite, literate and very dry comedy, its tone matched by crisp, cool, blue-tinged cinematography. There’s little to fault the script, Gleeson or Cheadle, but if I were to direct a complaint towards the film it would be that it finds an easy rhythm that it’s not ready to deviate from. As the narrative escalates towards an explosive conclusion, the deadpan tone remains comfortably in second gear.