The Guard: directed by written John Michael McDonagh
In a way, The Guard premise defies logic a bit. The eponymous guard of the title, Brendan Gleeson’s Boyle is a prototypical Irishman with the prototypical Irish brogue who for reasons that are not quite clear goes against the odds to try to take down a gang of drug smugglers. Perhaps, I’m grandstanding. It’s not specifically that the premise defies logic, it’s just that McDonagh's film is a bit too much of a reflection of its protagonist – equally ridiculous and vaguely odious as it is insightful and precise so that you wonder which is which, since it’s not the obvious thing to imagine that the two portions are one in the same.
Cheadle isn’t given as much to do because even if McDonagh flirts with the idea of making this a dual lead, it’s not his film. But, he’s always been a ready and able actor and he plays the pitiable part of the straight-man with a self awareness which does him well. McDonagh’s purpose for him ends up becoming something of a surrogate for the audience who is as confused, disgusted and arrested by what’s going on around us. And, it’s a bit of a flaw in the structure that Cheadle takes so long to show up. It’s often through his wan reaction shots that we know how to respond. The final shot of the film is a penetration glance from him, and it’s astonishing just how much he manages to establish with it which again raises the question as to why – despite the actual screenplay being quite effective – McDonagh couldn’t have used his supporting cast with more alacrity.