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Blu-ray Reviews

The Guard Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted January 08 2012 - 03:56 PM

The Guard is a very likeable and highly enjoyable comedy-action film which failed to find a large audience during its theatrical run but deserves much wider exposure now that it has been released on Blu-ray and DVD. The concept, about two law enforcement officers from wildly divergent backgrounds who have to work together to break up a drug smuggling ring, is not entirely original but the writing and performances are so outstanding that the film seems to be entirely fresh.



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The Guard

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Year: 2011
Rated: R
Program Length: 96 minutes                         Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p
Languages: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English

The Program

The Guard is a very likeable and highly enjoyable comedy-action film which failed to find a large audience during its theatrical run but deserves much wider exposure now that it has been released on Blu-ray and DVD. The concept, about two law enforcement officers from wildly divergent backgrounds who have to work together to break up a drug smuggling ring, is not entirely original but the writing and performances are so outstanding that the film seems to be entirely fresh.

Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a guard (Irish police officer) in Connemara, a small town on the west coast of Ireland. He has been on the job for many years and he is a bit world-weary and somewhat jaded. Most of his police work involves dealing with drunk drivers, but that all changes as the result of two developments. First, the corpse of a young man with a bullet hole in his forehead is discovered in his jurisdiction. Then he is visited by Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), an FBI agent from Atlanta who has learned that a large shipment of cocaine from Central America is going to be delivered somewhere along the coast. Boyle and Everett immediately get off on the wrong foot when the Sergeant says "I thought only black lads were drug dealers - and Mexicans." When the FBI agent calls out Boyle for his racist remarks, the Sergeant responds "I'm Irish, sir. Racism is part of my culture."

It turns out that Boyle has a tendency to say whatever is on his mind, regardless of how outrageous it might be. Everett, who is a highly educated Ivy League graduate, has a difficult time getting a read on his new and reluctant colleague. At one point he says to Boyle, "I can't tell if you're really motherfucking dumb or really mothefucking smart." It soon becomes apparent that the FBI man is the proverbial duck out of water. When he discovers that the murder victim was working with the drug smugglers, he sets out across the countryside to canvass for witnesses. However, he finds his questions greeted either with stony silence or with no cooperation from locals who will speak to him only in Gaelic.

The Guard offers up plenty of laughs and a few very violent action scenes. The script, written by director John Michael McDonough, is very witty and intelligent. Actors Gleeson and Cheadle are perfectly cast in their roles and they do some wonderful verbal sparring. They demonstrate a lot of chemistry working together and it would not surprise me to see them paired up in another film before long. The film also benefits from strong performances by the supporting actors and the wonderful locations along the rocky coast of Ireland.

The Video

Sony rarely disappoints with its Blu-ray transfers, and this one is no exception. The 2.35:1 image appears to be properly framed. The picture is highly detailed, with solid and accurate colors. Blacks are deep and inky. Much of the action takes place at night, so the excellent shadow detail is welcome. There is no evidence of excessive digital manipulation and an appropriate level of film grain has been retained to give The Guard a highly pleasing film-like appearance.

The Audio

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is excellent. Dialogue is generally clear and understandable. English subtitles are available for viewers who need them. They also come in handy for deciphering some Irish colloquialisms which probably will not be familiar to most American viewers. There are several scenes involving gunshots and explosions where the sound really comes to life. There also is an eclectic musical soundtrack which is nicely reproduced. 
The Supplements

The single Blu-ray disc offers quite a few interesting and entertaining extras.

There is a commentary track which features stars Gleeson and Cheadle, as well as writer-director McDonough. It is apparent that the chemistry which the actors show onscreen has developed into a personal friendship.

Also included are three deleted scenes, a dozen extended and alternate scenes, and a series of outtakes.

A question and answer session at the Los Angeles Film Festival features the director and the two stars. It has a running time of approximately 18 minutes.

"Making of The Guard" is a 19-minute featurette which gives nearly all of the members of the cast an opportunity to talk about the film and the characters they play.

The remaining extras are the film's original theatrical trailer and previews for Higher Ground; Life, Above All; Take Shelter; A Dangerous Method; Carnage; and The Skin I Live In.

The Packaging

The single disc comes in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

The Final Analysis

The Guard is a very funny and exciting film which was well-received by critics but largely ignored by filmgoers. This is a shame given that the past year brought us more than a few tepid, unfunny "comedies" which did quite well at the box office. Perhaps The Guard will now find its audience with this excellent Blu-ray presentation.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: January 3, 2012


Rich Gallagher

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 09 2012 - 06:11 AM

Rich-

I had never heard of this, but with your recommendation will give it a spin.  Thanks!



#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted January 09 2012 - 01:24 PM



Originally Posted by Adam Gregorich 

Rich-

I had never heard of this, but with your recommendation will give it a spin.  Thanks!



I hadn't heard of it, either, but I just looked it up on Rotten Tomatoes and it's rated 95% fresh. Only two of the "top critics" don't love it.


Rich Gallagher

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   dpippel

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Posted January 10 2012 - 04:34 AM

I watched this the other night and it's very, very good. Brendan Gleeson is simply wonderful and the film itself is irreverent and full of black humor. I thought the only weak link was Don Cheadle, who was basically playing himself.


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