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The Guard

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Ireland

2011

Rated R • 1h36

John Michael McDonagh

Director

Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong

Stars

Action, Comedy, Thriller, Crime

Genre

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Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a small-town Irish cop with a special interest in vulgarity. Wendell Everett is a stone-cold FBI agent who has zero patience for humor. When Boyle's town becomes vital to the FBI's investigation of an international drug smuggling gang, this unlikely pair must join forces.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

80

Time Out by

In narrative terms, it's mostly an excuse to work in a trio of crooks whose banter may be even better than that of our hero; Mark Strong's disgusted rant about paying off policemen and Liam Cunningham – led musings on Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" are enough to justify the entire movie on their own.
75

IndieWire by Eric Kohn

Only Boyle's unstoppable tendency to mouth off sustains the routine plot, but McDonagh pushes the limits of what he can make Gleeson say without making the crude nature of his asides overwhelm their comic potential.
80

Variety by Justin Chang

A crusty jewel of a performance by Brendan Gleeson goes a long way toward enlivening an otherwise routine tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption in The Guard.
75

The A.V. Club by Keith Phipps

Focusing the film on Gleeson was certainly the right choice. His performance is equal parts funny and unnerving, and he keeps viewers guessing about what drives the man and what he'll do next.
70

The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

There's a story, in case you're looking for one, though it's almost an afterthought, just the thin glue holding everything together, including the fine cast, the sense of broody place and the fatalism that seems to come with it. Mostly there's Mr. McDonagh's playful, sometimes overly cute language, which serves the actors and also threatens to upstage them.
70

Village Voice by Nick Pinkerton

One senses that The Guard is McDonagh's eulogy for the brusque, warts-and-all character of a passing generation of tough, working-class Irishmen, much as Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" was for vintage Americanism.

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