The Guard (15A)
Brendan Gleeson stars as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a Connemara-based Garda whose feckless existence is compromised when FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) appears in Galway on the hunt for a gang of international drug smugglers. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, brother of the award-winning playwright Martin McDonagh, The Guard employs the narrative structure of a conventional police procedural to unleash a wickedly black comedy of manners. The culture-clash between the focused and driven Everett and the irreverent and occasionally criminal Boyle is sharply observed, with Cheadle (who co-produces) content to play the straight man to Gleeson’s foul-mouthed stream of non sequiturs. Both actors are in fine fettle, and the rest of the cast - including Liam Cunningham, Larry Wilmot and Fionnula Flanagan - are happy to cruise along in their slipstream and heighten the surreal sense of humour, which is rooted in a very Irish resentment of authority in any form. The latter stages flatten the characterisations as McDonagh sets in train a manic finale, which is a little too derivative of the comedy-crime caper staples to be truly satisfying, but for the most part The Guard is one of the funniest comedies of the year to date. **** - Declan Burke
This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.