Gleeson Shines As Irish Anti-Hero Cop In 'The Guard'

Los Angeles Times and Morning Edition film critic Kenneth Turan has a review of The Guard, a black comedy starring veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

This weekend, movie screens are filled with Smurfs, cowboys and aliens. But if you want to avoid computer-generated creatures, our critic Kenneth Turan has an alternative for you.

KENNETH TURAN: "The Guard" is more than a breath of fresh air; it's a great gust of black comedy that gives veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson one of the tastiest roles of his career. "The Guard" is set in the west of Ireland, but its plot is pure "Beverly Hills Cop."

Gleeson plays an anarchic, unconventional Irish police sergeant who gives conniptions to an American FBI agent, coolly played by Don Cheadle, who's in Ireland investigating a drug smuggling ring.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Guard")

Mr. DON CHEADLE (Actor): (as Wendell Everett) Let me get this straight. We're investigating the murder and the trafficking of over half a million dollars...

Mr. BRENDAN GLEESON (Actor): (as Gerry Boyle) Billion.

Mr. CHEADLE: (as Wendell Everett) Half a billion dollars' worth of cocaine, and you're telling me it's your day off.

Mr. GLEESON: (as Gerry Boyle) I'm sure 24 hours won't make any difference.

Mr. CHEADLE: (as Wendell Everett) Twenty-four hours won't make any difference.

Mr. GLEESON: (Unintelligible) cop shows on telly, but it doesn't matter(ph) in my experience anyway. Why do you keep repeating everything I say?

TURAN: It's hard to overstate how well this role is tailored to all of Brendan Gleeson's gifts, including his way with a raised eyebrow and a talent for the rowdier words in the English language.

Though he would likely deny it, Sergeant Boyle is more complicated than unexpected, the lowly country nobody he likes to call himself. Despite his doubts, the bad guys really are coming to Boyle's neck of the woods, so it's a given that the fish out of water FBI agent and the local anti-hero are going to find a way to make beautiful music together.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Guard")

Mr. GLEESON: (as Gerry Boyle) You know, it's like Compton, huh?

Mr. CHEADLE: (as Wendell Everett) Exactly. They're not too keen on talking to the law, that's for damn sure. Most of them, they don't even speak English.

Mr. GLEESON: (as Gerry Boyle) They know how to speak English well enough. This is a Gaelic-speaking region. Did they not teach you that at Langley?

Mr. CHEADLE: No, they did not teach me that at Langley for the simple fact that Langley is the CIA, you idiot, not the FBI.

Mr. GLEESON: You didn't know that the people in the west of Ireland speak Gaelic, and I'm the idiot.

TURAN: "The Guard" also benefits from the waves of amusing only-in-Ireland characters, created by writer-director John Michael McDonagh. There's a criminally savvy tot named Eugene, an IRA-affiliated arms man who wears a cowboy hat and drives an orange VW, and a killer who insists he's a sociopath, not a psychopath.

To hear Sergeant Boyle tell it, the Irish never forget, and this is one Irish film that will stay in the memory for quite some time to come.

KELLY: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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