Director/writer John Michael McDonagh, brother of In Bruges director Martin McDonagh, makes his debut with this stylish and instantly likable tale of a brash, slightly racist-but-all-in-good-fun Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson) who takes on a group of international drug smugglers. The film has an authentically Irish feel that is somewhat hampered by the appearance of Don Cheadle as a visiting FBI agent, but his exchanges with Gleeson are great fun for the most part. The smugglers are a chatty group of British/Irishmen that include the always enjoyable Mark Strong (Green Lantern) as a philosophical/self-reflective heavy. McDonagh creates an old-fashioned outlaw atmosphere complete with bold red titles and a spaghetti western-like score and while the film doesn’t reach the deliriously giddy heights of his brother’s debut, The Guard certainly takes its place alongside modern crime film classics like Sexy Beast and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
The Guard opens today at the Ritz Five.