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The Guard (2011 film)

The Guard
Theatrical poster
Directed by John Michael McDonagh
Produced by Chris Clark
Flora Fernandez-Marengo
Ed Guiney
Andrew Lowe
Written by John Michael McDonagh
Starring Brendan Gleeson
Don Cheadle
Mark Strong
Liam Cunningham
Fionnula Flanagan
Music by Calexico
Cinematography Larry Smith
Editing by Chris Gill
Studio Reprisal Films
Element Pictures
Crescendo Productions
Aegis Film Fund
Distributed by Element Pictures
Sony Pictures Classics
(United States)
Release date(s)
Running time 92 minutes (Original release)
96 minutes (US release)
Country Ireland
Language English
Budget $US 6,000,000[1]
Box office $17,622,501[1]

The Guard is a 2011 Irish action comedy film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, and starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong and Liam Cunningham.[2][3] It is the most successful Irish film of all time in terms of Irish box-office receipts, overtaking The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) which previously held this status.[4]


Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is an officer of the Garda Síochána in Connemara in the west of Ireland. He is crass and confrontational, regularly partaking in drugs and alcohol even while on duty. He is also shown to have a softer side, showing concern for his ailing mother, Eileen (Flanagan).

Boyle and his partner, Aidan McBride (Keenan), investigate a murder in their jurisdiction, with evidence pointing to an occult serial killer. Shortly after, Boyle attends a briefing by Wendell Everett (Cheadle), a special agent of the FBI, sent to liaise with the Garda in hunting down four Irish drug traffickers, led by Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (Cunningham), who is believed to be awaiting a delivery of cocaine coming into Connemara by boat. Boyle recognises one of the men in Everett's presentation as the victim of the murder he and McBride had been investigating. Around the same period, McBride pulls over a car with Sheehy and his lieutenants Clive Cornell (Strong) and Liam O'Leary (Wilmot) and is shot dead. McBride's wife, Gabriela (Čas), reports McBride's disappearance to Boyle, who promises to look into it.

The strait-laced Everett and the unorthodox Boyle are teamed up to track down Sheehy and his men, but while Everett makes the rounds, running into language issues and uncooperative residents, Boyle solicits a pair of prostitutes (McElligott and Greene) at a hotel in town. On his way back from the hotel, Boyle spots McBride's Garda car at a "suicide hotspot" along the coast, but does not believe that McBride killed himself. Meeting Everett at the local bar, Boyle glances up at a surveillance camera and remembers that the original suspect in the murder case claimed to be frequenting the same establishment at the time of the killing. Looking over the footage from the time of the murder, they see that the suspect's alibi checked out – and Everett also spots Sheehy and Cornell at the bar at the same time. Meanwhile, Cornell delivers a payoff to the Garda inspectors to keep them off the case, but Sheehy believes that Boyle will not be so easily swayed, even after he meets with Boyle and offers him a bribe.

Tipped off by a young boy named Eugene (Lane), Boyle discovers a cache of weapons hidden in the marshes by the IRA. After having her last wish to hear a live pub band fulfilled, Boyle's mother dies; while meeting at the bar again, Everett remarks that Garda sources indicate that Sheehy's shipment will be coming into County Cork, and that he is leaving to investigate. Returning home, Boyle is confronted in his living room by O'Leary, sent by Sheehy to kill Boyle to keep him from interfering with the shipment. Boyle pulls a gun and kills O'Leary, then calls Everett to tell him that the Cork lead was a decoy. Boyle drives to the local dock where Sheehy's boat is berthed, and Sheehy's men are unloading the cocaine. Everett arrives and gives Boyle covering fire as he moves to arrest Sheehy and Cornell. Boyle – taking a glancing hit to the arm – kills Cornell before leaping onto the boat to take down Sheehy before he can escape. Everett hits several explosive barrels on the deck, setting the boat on fire. Boyle shoots Sheehy and leaves him for dead in the main cabin as the boat explodes.

As day breaks, Everett looks out on the water where the boat sank, believing Boyle to be dead. Eugene mentions that Boyle was a good swimmer; having claimed to have placed fourth at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, a claim that Everett incredulously dismissed. A young photographer (Kinlan), remarks that it was easy enough to look up. Everett smiles to himself as he considers this.




Film producers include Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Ed Guiney, and Andrew Lowe, with executive producers Paul Brett, Don Cheadle, Martin McDonagh (brother of John Michael), David Nash, Ralph Kamp, Lenore Zerman, and associate producer Elizabeth Eves.[2] Director John Michael McDonagh is known for his screenplay for the 2003 film Ned Kelly and as writer/director of the 2000 film The Second Death.[2] Cinematographer Larry Smith is known for his work on Eyes Wide Shut and production designer John-Paul Kelly for his work on Venus.[2][5][6]


Principal filming began on 29 October 2009, in Leitir Móir (Lettermore) Co. Galway. Filming took place over a six-week period in Connemara, Leitir Móir, Leitir Mealláin (Lettermullen), An Spidéal and Bearna with some scenes for filming in Wicklow and Dublin.[2] Involved companies are Reprisal Films and Element Pictures in association with Prescience, Aegis Film Fund, UK Film Council, and Crescendo Productions, with the participation of An Bord Scannán na hÉireann (Irish Film Board).[2]

International sales were handled by Metropolis Films and the film was released by Element Pictures Distribution in Ireland,[2][5][6] Optimum Releasing in the United Kingdom, Sony Pictures Classics in the United States and Alliance Films in Canada.


The film has a 95 percent positive rating according to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[7]

In The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy wrote: "Scabrous, profane, violent, verbally adroit and very often hilarious, this twisted and exceptionally accomplished variation on the buddy-cop format is capped by a protean performance by Brendan Gleeson a defiantly iconoclastic Irish West Country policeman."[8] Vanity Fair's John Lopez wrote: "So far, The Guard has been the most thoroughly enjoyable film experience at Sundance, a nice change of pace from the anomie, alienated angst and melancholy of other films.[9] In Screen International, David D'Arcy wrote: "As a director, McDonagh avoids the grand gesture and focuses on his web of odd characters that call to mind the comedies of Preston Sturges."[10] Justin Chang of Variety wrote: "The film making crackles with energy, from Chris Gill's crisp editing and Calexico's ever-inventive score to d.p. Larry Smith's dynamic camerawork, alternating between bright, almost candy-colored interiors and shots of Galway's gray, rugged landscape."[11]

In The Times, Wendy Ide wrote: "Without doubt the strongest debut film of the year so far, this sly, witty and provocative Irish black comedy is an exceptionally funny crowd-pleaser and a playful cine-literate exercise, laced with arcane movie references... Gleeson must be thanking whatever guardian angel oversees his career for the brothers McDonagh giving him two of his meatiest roles yet."[12] Georgie Hobbs of Little White Lies wrote: "Unexpectedly hilarious, The Guard is the triumphant directorial debut of Ned Kelly screenwriter (and brother of In Bruges director Martin), John Michael McDonagh... This confident film knows full well how funny it is, daring to provoke with unfettered 'unPCness' a-plenty."[13]



External links

  • Official Website
  • Box Office Mojo
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Rotten Tomatoes
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