The Guard


In Bruges, in Galway.

The Guard review

The classic Irish sitcom Father Ted had a great conceit: its characters just happened to be priests, but first, foremost and with extreme fallibility they were, simply, humans.

We’ve seen this trick before in cop films, but John Michael McDonagh’s melancholic comedy displays much of Ted’s cock-eyed charm.

Without overstating its similarities to the darker In Bruges, directed by McDonagh’s brother Martin, let’s just say this: Mrs McDonagh should very proud indeed.

We first meet Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) of the Galway Garda as he confiscates drugs from a dead joyrider. “I don’t think your mammy would be too pleased about that now,” he tuts paternally, before popping a tab of acid and deciding, “What a beautiful fucking day!”

Except for the narcotics, Boyle’s a decent policeman, sniffing out human truths like Fargo’s Marge Gunderson, although smugglers Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong and the intrusion of FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) conspire to queer his parochial pitch.

Although the ensuing Hot Fuzz-isms have been done a hundred times before (hence the standard-issue final shootout), The Guard goes for – and gets – big, character-based belly laughs, managing to be broad and intimate, authentic and escapist at the same time.

Brought to life with gusto, Boyle is equal parts cynic (“You’re boring the hole off me!” he tells a colleague) and sentimentalist (“I’d like to have a family, but I’m too busy whoring it around”).

It’s a great performance and a hell of a character – profane, contradictory, ineffably alive.


Patrolling the dark/light divide so confidently even the IRA nab legitimate laughs, The Guard is a cracker of a film and Sergeant Gerry Boyle a comedy creation for the ages.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • rover7

      Aug 10th 2011, 17:30


      I'm suprised the article didn't open with the line "The classic British sitcom..." judging by the form TF are in these days.

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    • dav1d

      Aug 16th 2011, 14:59

      Can anyone tell me who wrote the script & is it from the Writer of "in Bruges" & one more thing, Can we not broaden our vocabulary in these scripts, with all the amazing Irish writers that fill the literary shelf's in (lieberrys) across the world, (s**tE CAN'T EVEN SPELL THAT F**k**g RIGHT), doh, But with these efforts from the Mc Donagh's were going in the right direction

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    • tomsmovies

      Aug 17th 2011, 1:16

      Let's get one thing clear, In Bruges this ain't. I felt rather let down by The Guard, they packed almost all the good jokes into the trailer (thus stopping them from being funny in the film) and the rest of it was just a bit... flat.

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    • ChrisWootton

      Sep 1st 2011, 14:07


      It was good... not great but good

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    • matthewbrady

      Jul 29th 2014, 2:25


      It comes at time in my reviews, that I see a movie that many people like but I don't, well this is one of those movies and before anybody thinks that I hate this movie well I don't and here are some good and not so good things in the movie. Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle were great in this movie. The directing is brilliant. But as good as Brendan Gleeson acting in the film, his character in the movie is so unlikable and when he is in great danger I didn't give a flying f**k if he got shout or stabbed.

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