Film / The Guard

"What a beautiful fuckin' day."
Gerry Boyle, in the film's first spoken line

The Guard is a 2011 Irish action-comedy film. Starring Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle and Don Cheadle as FBI Agent Wendell Everett, it is based in the west of Ireland. When a murder victim turns up, Gerry soon discovers that he was part of a drug smuggling ring. When his rookie partner disappears, Gerry is asked by the man's wife to find out what happened. He then gets embroiled in the dealings of a drug smuggling ring and must crack the case.

The directorial debut of John Michael McDonagh. See Martin McDonagh for his brother, writer/director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: All three of the drug traffickers are this to a certain extent
  • Anti-Hero: Gerry is a Pragmatic Hero.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Wendell tries to get information on the villains by canvassing the locals. Nobody seems willing to help, speak English, or even acknowledge him. In desperation, he even asks a horse.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Aidan.
  • Author Appeal: Almost all the characters are well-read and cultured, including several of the villains. Given Ireland's trend toward higher learning, this isn't too much of a stretch.
  • Bald of Evil: Clive Cornell. What do you expect from a villain played by Mark Strong?
  • The Beard: Gabriella.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Cornell and Sheehy
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The drug operation is definitively put down, but it is ambiguous as to whether Gerry survived the boat explosion. Though it is implied he has faked his death and moved on.
  • Black Comedy. We're talking the blacker-than-death type.
  • Blackmail: Subverted. Sheehy attempts to blackmail Gerry with photographs of him in a threesome with some prostitutes to keep him from investigating the case further. Gerry simply doesn't care. After Sheehy leaves, Gerry facepalms in frustration. Turns out, he just has brain freeze from his milkshake.
  • Blood Knight: Cornell is revealed to have a little bit of this: "You kidding me? This is better than fucking Christmas!"
  • Brick Joke: The drugs are estimated to be 500 million dollars worth. Gerry calls bullshit on that, stating that's more than what he pays for in the street. In the film's climax, Sheehy increadulously states that its only for 200 million.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Its hinted early on that Gerry's more intelligent that he let's on, but he can't seem to give a fuck about most things due to his utter discontent and boredom on the job.
  • Book Ends: Gerry putting on his uniform.
  • Bury Your Gays
  • Casting Gag: As noted under Acceptable Targets Dubliners are mocked a lot, especially by Gerry. Brendan Gleeson is himself a Dubliner.
  • Call Back: Everett raises his hand to ask a question to Boyle just before the climax, similar to how Gerry interrupted his lecture early on in the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Gerry returns the bag of guns to the IRA, a Derringer, a Glock and a Kalashnikov are missing. Turns out, Gerry kept hold of them and keeps the Derringer in his trousers, which he uses to dispatch O'Leary. The other two guns are used in the final shootout.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Gerry is seen playing a light gun game in the pub and is later seen out swimming. Both play major parts in the climax.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Aidan is an Armored Closet Gay and Gabriella needs citizenship papers to stay in the country.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Cool Old Lady: Gerry's mother.
  • Corrupt Cop: Gerry is amazingly corrupt, in that he frequents prostitutes, steals evidence, drinks and takes drugs on shift, and even returns guns to the IRA. Amazingly, he's the only guard in the film not on the villains' payroll. They try to bribe and blackmail him, but he simply doesn't give a shit.
  • Cowboy Cop: Gerry is unconventional in his policing methods. Given that the soundtrack sounds like something out of a western, this trope is pretty much established up from the start.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    Special Agent Everett: Y'know, I can't tell if you're really motherfuckin' dumb or really motherfuckin' smart.
  • Cultured Badass:
    • The villains like to spend car journeys discussing their favourite philosophers and have a fondness for Jazz music.
    • Gerry's got a bit of this too, being well versed in classic literature.
    O'Leary: There's so many things I still want to do...
    Gerry: Like what, for fuck's sake? Running with the bulls in Pamplona?
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Gerry Boyle. It is an Irish movie with the lead played by Brendan Gleeson after all. Wendell also gets in a few good quips
    • Clive also gets his share of lines: "When I signed up for the part of international drug runner, it didn't say anything about heavy lifting".
    • Gerry seems to have inherited his snarkiness from his mother.
  • Defiant to the End: McBride, cornered, refuses to turn around for the drug traffickers, deciding to show them for the cowards they are. They shoot him, then comment on how well he took it. "He was very philosophical about it."
  • Da Chief: Inspector Stanton is a particularly incompetent version. And corrupt.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: McBride speaks and acts much like an American cop. Boyle lampshades this.
    Gerry: "I'm on it, Sarge." Where does he think he is? Fuckin' Detroit?!
  • Evil Brit: Clive Cornell.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Sheehy tells Gerry that he won't hear him beg for help as the place burns down around them, while he's too injured to move. He still ends up screaming Boyle's name as the latter departs, though.
  • Fetish: Invoked. Gerry has a thing for his prostitutes dressing as guards with ludicrously short skirts. He even asks them to bring handcuffs the next time.
  • Foreshadowing: Gerry takes his mom to a carehouse after she's diagnosed with a disease that leaves her a little time left before her death. The person in charge is a black man whom he doesn't disparage or insult, which is odd considering he belittles Everett later on. Its a hint of Gerry's underlying intelligence and general badassery, as well as discontent with his job as a police man.
  • Funny Background Event: When Gerry tells his mother about the cocaine ring and she asks if he can get her some, a priest behind them does a noticeable Double Take as he walks out the door.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: Inverted. Gerry makes use of a Glock and gives Wendell an AK, both of which have reputations as being the Weapon of Choice for criminals and terrorists in Ireland. He did take these from the IRA. On the other hand, a few villains make use of revolvers, Cornell favours a SIG-Sauer, which is the pistol issued to armed Gardaí and Sheehy uses a Beretta, which has a long history of being a "Good" gun.
  • Hard Gay: The reason that the IRA have a Derringer in their weapon stash. Apparently, they were the only ones able to successfully infiltrate MI5.
  • Heroic Neutral: Sums up Gerry to a tee. He just wants to enjoy his day off, and his taking on the drug traffickers is motivated partially by irritation that they killed his partner, partially because a drug trafficking case is just too much boring work
  • Hollywood Law: Subverted. "What? C'mon, man. I'm not shooting a Kalashnikov off in the middle of Ireland. It'd be an international fucking incident."
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Aoife downplayes this given that she is forced to participate in a blackmailing scheme against Gerry, but she seems to genuinely like Gerry.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The drug smugglers suffer from this hugely in the film's climax. Cornell shoots at Boyle Guns Akimbo and one Mook fires Gangsta Style. Gerry takes a round to the arm and takes his time with his aim and takes out most of them.
  • The Informant: The kid who turns up from time to time informs Gerry about the stash of guns. And tries to keep the Derringer for himself.
  • Insistent Terminology: O'Leary isn't a psychopath, he's a sociopath. Though, he doesn't actually know what the difference is. He was simply told this in prison.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted in the cases of Sheehy and O'Leary.
  • Little Useless Gun: Averted by the derringer. Gerry kills O'Leary with it, though it takes him quite some time to die.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Cornell's death.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Gabriella McBride is Croatian. Everybody thinks she's Romanian. Also, the first suspect in the murder case only looks Italian.
  • My God, You Are Serious: Stanton asks Everett if the term "liquidating" in reference to killing someone is literal. Everett chuckles for a moment, then notices Stanton still staring at him and has a moment to blink before responding in astonishment.
  • Never Found the Body: Gerry's body is never found, leaving it ambiguous as to whether he survived.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Gerry. Wendell lampshades this.
  • Olympic Swimmer: Gerry is a great swimmer and may or may not have come fourth at the Seoul Olympics. He may have used this ability to escape from the yacht at the end of the film.
  • One-Man Army: Gerry manages to kill most of the drug traffickers himself. However, he is clever enough to get Wendell to cover him from long range.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Pat Shortt as IRA man Colum Hennessey.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Gerry says this about his shoulder wound.
  • Pet the Dog: Gerry takes the time to look after his mother, who is dying of cancer.
    • When Gabriela, Aiden's wife, comes by Gerry's house since her husband's disappearance, he puts some effort by preparing some tea and comforting her.
  • Psycho for Hire: O'Leary.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Everything Gerry says at the briefing. Wendell notes that he has some balls on him for speaking to Stanton in the manner that he does.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: O'Leary's Weapon of Choice is a Magnum Revolver, which he uses to threaten Gerry and dispatch McBride.
  • Running Gag: "They got that man over from the FBI." "Oooh, Behavioral Science Unit?" "...No, Drugs." Apparently the BSU's training reputation internationally precedes it.
  • Salt and Pepper: Gerry and Wendell.
  • Spiritual Successor: To In Bruges. Completely different movies, but they share the same off-the-wall and gleefully politically incorrect style of humour, as well as Brendan Gleeson in a prominent role. Director-screenwriter John Michael McDonagh is the brother of In Bruges director Martin McDonagh, who was an executive producer on The Guard.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Subverted. Stanton tells Gerry he can consider himself under suspension for a variety of snarky remarks at a briefing. Gerry simply tells him that he won't in brazen fashion and then proceeds to tell him that one of the men he's looking for is already dead.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Gerry and Wendell, mostly due to Gerry's constant racist remarks. Though, he may be just trying to get a rise out of him.
  • Wicked Cultured: When we first meet the villains, they're quoting the philosophy of Nietzsche.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Aidan McBride. It gets him killed early on.
  • Widget Series: It's an Irish homage to Dirty Harry that features constant swearing, dark humor and appropriate Black and Grey Morality. It's very much an EIEIO.
  • Worthy Opponent: The drug traffickers respect Gerry's integrity. Of course, this means that they decide that he must die for it.