The Guard

Out Now On-Demand

Irish crime-comedy about two policemen who join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang – one, a sly Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) and the other, a straitlaced FBI agent (Don Cheadle).

"'What a beautiful day,' sighs Brendan Gleeson’s unorthodox Irish cop. The fact that he’s saying this while high on acid at the scene of a car accident tells you everything you need to know about this 90s-style crimecomedy." (TimeOut New York).

This is the feature debut from John Michael McDonagh, brother of the playwright and filmmaker who made In Bruges.


Directed by

Comedy, Thriller


Rating: R13 contains violence, offensive language, drug use & sexual material


Official Site

Screenwriting guru William Goldman writes, rather beautifully, of first encountering intrepid detective Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in the Coen brothers’ classic, Fargo. “I felt a sense of peace,” he says. For one thing, McDormand was married to Joel Coen, so “no way he offs his wife”. For another, “I was going to spend another hour with one of the major movie characters of the decade… I just wanted to be along for the ride.”

The same is true of Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) of the Irish police force, although he’s a good deal less wholesome than Marge – in fact, we first meet him tripping his nuts off on confiscated acid. Gleeson’s not romantically linked with writer-director John Michael McDonagh either, although he did bring the same bear-like charm to In Bruges by McDonagh’s brother, Martin, so close enough.

Like a light-hearted Lethal Weapon in reverse, The Guard teams Gleeson’s corner-cutting hick with Don Cheadle’s uptight FBI officer Wendell Everett with genial, often laugh-out-loud results. Chugging pills and visiting prostitutes, while retaining a twinkly-eyed appeal, Boyle scoffs at his partner’s professional eagerness. Everett, meanwhile, can scarcely believe Boyle’s questionable methods, but soon wonders whether he’s as stupid (or racist, or dishonest, or crass) as he appears.

Although it may sound a touch over-familiar – and the open-and-shut smuggling case they face certainly is – the film’s more interested in spending quality time with this unlikely pair than solving crimes. Thanks to McDonagh’s sparkling script and some charming central performances, you will be too.

A.V. Club (USA)


Focusing the film on Gleeson was certainly the right choice. His performance is equal parts funny and unnerving, and he keeps viewers guessing about what drives the man and what he'll do next.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


The Guard is a pleasure. I can't tell if it's really (bleeping) dumb or really (bleeping) smart, but it's pretty (bleeping) good.

Empire (UK)


Among the most purely entertaining films of the year, which cuts its laughter with a dose of Celtic melancholy. It still delivers cop/action requirements — shoot-outs, revenges, daring deeds — and chances are, we’ll be quoting lines from this forever.

New York Times


There's a story, in case you're looking for one, though it's almost an afterthought, just the thin glue holding everything together, including the fine cast, the sense of broody place and the fatalism that seems to come with it. Mostly there's Mr. McDonagh's playful, sometimes overly cute language, which serves the actors and also threatens to upstage them.

Total Film (UK)


Patrolling the dark/light divide so confidently even the IRA nab legitimate laughs, The Guard is a cracker of a film and Sergeant Gerry Boyle a comedy creation for the ages.

Variety (USA)


A crusty jewel of a performance by Brendan Gleeson goes a long way toward enlivening an otherwise routine tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption in The Guard.

Village Voice (USA)


The Guard bets everything on Gleeson's boyish twinkle—and tends to overestimate its own raffish charm.

go see it. go now.

rates as highly with me as 'get low' did earlier this year.

Gleeson is excellent. do not miss this movie.

Dark,funny and cool

Gerry Boyle played by Brendan Gleeson is a cop investigating drug smuggling, when an FBI Agent Wendell Everret played by Don Cheadle comes over from the states to help with the case. Gleeson is great as a very hard nosed and funny and also of kilter cop. Cheadle is playing a straigh laced character and also does well. This is similar humour to the directors brother who directed the fantastic In Bruges and there are some similarites with the dark humour in this one. I did enjoy it and I recommend it


Having heard amazing reviews of this film possibly ruined it for me. As although it's entertaining it's just not that funny. I do generally love this style of humour and with the actors of the calibre of Brendon Gleeson, Mark Strong and Don Cheadle i have to be honest and say I was expecting more.

Depth, Humour, and Darkness.

Contrary to the hype calling it laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish, I found it instead a wry, insightful and very endearing dramatic take on life, crime, and of a sort, punishment. The stand-out moment for me had to be the scene in the underground aquarium. This movie's abundant quirky realistic humour made me want to laugh, for sure, but it also delivered it's share of black moments, and I found myself almost, but not quite, rooting for the baddies at times, particularly the philosophically oriented, deep-thinking ummmm cold-blooded gangster, and his absolutely wonderful lines. Brilliantly paced, excellent acting, and a winning choice for opening night at the Hamilton Festival.

Well done.

Comedy of old

This movies harks back to an older style of comedy where the two protagonists/heros use their great acting skills to subtley express a growing friendship of two polar opposites. The humor is both subtle and at times in your face with Brendon Gleeson playing such a stereotype you can't be sure at first wether he is really really dumb or really really clever. Don Cheadle brilliantly plays the straight man who can't quite believe the opinions spouted by this supposed racist backwater cop

Mark Strong as one of the baddies also provides humor as a phillisohpical london gangster bemoaning the lack of ethics one comes across in crime these days. And all 3 villians rift off one another with their opposing accents in a way that has us hanging off their every word. And accents play a large role in this movie with it being hard at times to follow the strong brogues used putting us the audience on the same stage as the FBI agent who has landed in this funny different place

My mate and I laughed all through this and loved the open ended ending. Highly Recommend


Totally Irish, Totally Hilarious

My partner is a bit of a critic. He's a bit reluctant to call things funny, let alone hilarious. Let alone laugh out loud and clap your hands in glee hilarious.

And then there was the Guard.

My partner is Irish, and having now visited Ireland with him several times I can say that the movie itself is very Irish. Sometimes you see movies set in Ireland but the people talk like Americans. This movie is Irish through and through - and that includes their unique sense of humour.

In some ways, it was Brendon Gleeson's 'straight' playing of the alcoholic, drug-popping Irish cop that really makes this shine. The jokes are delivered with a straight face, and he seems like such a real person - although when I went to Galway I didn't notice the local constabulary acting in such a manner.

Anyway, the Guard is hilarious. Don't miss it.