The Guard

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle | 15 | 96mins  3/5

Irish cop Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is first seen arriving at a horrific car crash. He rifles through the pockets of one of the dead and finds a bag of LSD tablets. He shrugs and pops one in his mouth. It’s an entrée to Gleeson’s blackly funny, relentlessly anarchic turn – one that elevates The Guard above its shortcomings.

Slick FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) shows up and tells the local cops that a bumper shipment of drugs is coming into town. Problem is, all the other cops are corrupt, meaning Boyle and Everett must work together.

After being repeatedly told by other characters that Boyle is unpredictable, unconventional and enigmatic, we’re left with a familiar trope. Two odd-couple cops come to rely on each other despite their differences
– it’s Lethal Weapon Goes Gaelic.

But the film backs its cast and its script, eschewing cookie-cutter pyrotechnics for fixed-camera close-ups and some of the most absorbing small talk since Pulp Fiction. The bleak atmosphere of coastal Ireland is expertly conjured and, like Tarantino’s opus, The Guard boasts a killer soundtrack and a wonderful rogues’ gallery of seedy weirdos: small-town hookers, feral kids and ageing IRA fixers.

On the downside, The Guard suffers the indie-flick curse of cramming in story elements – a cop’s widow, a dying mother – that either fall flat or go nowhere. There’s also some try-hard quirkiness that borders on self-parody – the villains are introduced arguing about philosophy and regularly bemoan society’s ills. Still, it’s an eminently watchable, stylishly shot genre mash-up that hits its comic marks.

Good for: Open-minded and film-literate audiences who appreciate the details

Tom Sturrock




Cowboys & Aliens

Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford  12A | 112mins

Sci-fi meets the Wild West when a spaceship arrives in Arizona in 1873 to take over Earth.

But the interlopers must first get past a posse of cowboys and native Americans led by Jake Lonergan (Craig) and Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford).

Directed by Jon Favreau, who helmed Iron Man and Iron Man 2, the premise for this film is the very definition of high-concept.


The Devil’s Double

Dominic Cooper was once described as having the appearance of “a man who’s permanently looking for sex”.

Here he plays two different roles, that of Saddam Hussein’s evil son Uday – notorious for his depraved lust – and Latif Yahia, desperate to escape his forced existence as Uday’s body double.

At least Cooper won’t have to worry about being upstaged by a co-star.

>>On General Release