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Review: The Guard

John Michael McDonagh's cop story
By PETER KEOUGH  |  August 2, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

With equal parts In the Heat of the Night, Coup de Torchon, and good old Irish blarney, John Michael McDonagh's Connacht-set cop story would be too clever by half if not for Brendan Gleeson's canny performance. He's Sergeant Gerry Boyle, "the last of the independents," as he puts it, and "unpredictable," as one of the homicidal drug dealers he's tracking down insists. In other words, he drinks, takes drugs, hires hookers dressed in police uniforms, and makes racist remarks to Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), the FBI agent in town working a tip about a cocaine shipment expected to make landfall nearby. To no one's surprise, it's unwise to underestimate Boyle; when Everett wonders whether his uncouth counterpart is really dumb or really smart, it's a rhetorical question. Less predictable is Boyle's free associative, esoteric banter, a more convincingly oddball bit than, say, the thugs discussing Nietzsche; it keeps things lively until the shite hits the fan.

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