Who’d have thought the 2008 existential crime caper In Bruges had one last surprise up its sleeve?
And it’s a doozy – whatever blarney stone writer/director Martin McDonagh has been smooching, it was clearly passed around the dinner table, since brother John Michael McDonagh has now debuted with a similarly foul-mouthed comedy-thriller.
And that’s both The Guard’s greatest asset and its biggest weakness.
It’s awkward to contribute to what must, at some primal level, be a pretty intense sibling rivalry, but when it comes to merrily un-PC potty mouthery, fockin’ Bruges just edges it.
Still, there’s much to love here. The plot – a convention-scorning Galway cop falling between drug smuggler on one hand and Don Cheadle’s visiting FBI agent on the other – affords the mighty Brendan Gleeson another chance to shine.
He could play the rumpled title character in his sleep, so it’s to his enormous credit that he finds wise, naive, world-weary and mischievous notes in McDonagh’s scabrous dialogue. He’s as brilliant at wheedling Cheadle’s racial sensitivities as he is at convincing us he loves his mam.
Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong and David Wilmot have fun as the philosophically minded villains and Cheadle is classy as ever, but The Guard is Gleeson’s film.
The not-bad extras include a Making Of that veers close to EPK, but a bundled short featuring Cunningham and Aidan Gillen shows all the promise that The Guard delivers on.