Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Aug 20, 2011
    100
    The Guard soars along on a script, like those by the other McDonagh (Martin wrote and directed "In Bruges" and the Oscar winning short "Six Shooter," both starring Gleeson) built out of verbal flourishes and Irish curses.
  2. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Aug 1, 2011
    100
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 13, 2011
    91
    The film has visual and verbal flair, spry energy and deep wit.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 20, 2011
    90
    A fantastically entertaining movie.
  5. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Aug 11, 2011
    88
    The dialogue is smart, screwball, sublime.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Aug 4, 2011
    88
    The movie is more pure, profane enjoyment than a body should have in the dog days of August.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Aug 4, 2011
    88
    Part Joel & Ethan Coen and part John Millington Synge, this grotty little fairy tale casts a deft line and reels you in. I'd see it again just to hear the drug smugglers argue over the use of the Americanism "good to go."
  8. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 3, 2011
    88
    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.
  9. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jul 29, 2011
    85
    If the movie's mix of nihilistic violence and snarky attitude suggests "In Bruges," it's a family resemblance. The writer-director of that film, which also starred Gleeson, is Martin McDonagh, the younger brother of this one's. Despite the similarities, the older McDonagh has a lighter touch. Where "In Bruges" ultimately became a mechanical bloodbath, The Guard scampers quickly through the action scenes, delivering commentary on genre conventions as it goes.
  10. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Aug 4, 2011
    80
    It's a nifty little Irish summer vacation.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    Aug 4, 2011
    80
    Gleeson makes the movie worthwhile and fun, in spite of its occasional overuse of Leone-Morricone spaghetti-western riffs.
  12. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Jul 26, 2011
    80
    In narrative terms, it's mostly an excuse to work in a trio of crooks whose banter may be even better than that of our hero; Mark Strong's disgusted rant about paying off policemen and Liam Cunningham – led musings on Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" are enough to justify the entire movie on their own.
  13. Reviewed by: Steve Ramos
    Jul 24, 2011
    80
    The Guard may be a formula movie but McDonagh does wonders with the familiar character types and action climax.
  14. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jul 24, 2011
    80
    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.
  15. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Aug 18, 2011
    78
    Gleeson is triumphant in this portrait of a complex man who is concurrently sensitive, boorish, brilliant, singular, and unforgettable.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Sep 2, 2011
    75
    An Ireland-set charmer oozing with a satisfying intelligence and driven by the considerable charisma of Brendan Gleeson ("Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows").
  17. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Aug 25, 2011
    75
    The Guard is guilty of being overly cute, but it brims with talent and a freshness that extends beyond the clever script.
  18. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Aug 19, 2011
    75
    Like its neo-noir kin across the pond, The Guard is violent, profane and funny. But McDonagh is interested in more than mockery.
  19. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Aug 4, 2011
    75
    Crisp, acid-tongued and sharply acted, it's the sort of exercise in tangy Celtic cynicism that's become one of the Emerald Isle's most reliable exports.
  20. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 29, 2011
    75
    How dark is this comedy? It's a big hit in Ireland.
  21. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Jul 28, 2011
    75
    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.
  22. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 27, 2011
    75
    In this offbeat buddy-cop comedy, Don Cheadle, as an FBI agent trying to stop a drug ring, makes the perfect foil.
  23. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 25, 2011
    75
    Only Boyle's unstoppable tendency to mouth off sustains the routine plot, but McDonagh pushes the limits of what he can make Gleeson say without making the crude nature of his asides overwhelm their comic potential.
  24. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jul 24, 2011
    75
    The Guard is John Michael McDonagh's caustically funny riff on cop and crime films.
  25. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jul 28, 2011
    70
    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.
  26. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Jul 26, 2011
    70
    One senses that The Guard is McDonagh's eulogy for the brusque, warts-and-all character of a passing generation of tough, working-class Irishmen, much as Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" was for vintage Americanism.
  27. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 11, 2011
    63
    Hip, lurid and improbably lovable, The Guard is easily the best guy-love comedy of the summer, with Cheadle and Gleeson's riffs and repartee tumbling back and forth as if they've been trading lies over Guinness forever.
  28. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jul 29, 2011
    60
    McDonagh indulges in too many '90s affectations, from blaring chapter titles to philosophizing gangsters. But he captures his misty setting's insular atmosphere beautifully.
  29. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jul 28, 2011
    55
    Like the recent "Perrier's Bounty," The Guard feels like it might play better at home than overseas.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 96 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 30
  2. Negative: 4 out of 30
  1. Sep 12, 2012
    9
    The Guard is a truly fine black comedy. It has a fantastic central comic performance from Brendan Gleeson, who plays Sergeant Boyle, a strangeThe Guard is a truly fine black comedy. It has a fantastic central comic performance from Brendan Gleeson, who plays Sergeant Boyle, a strange amalgamation of the classic good cop/bad cop partnership we're used to seeing in movies, with a twisted sense of humour and questionable morals, but with a heart that is ultimately made of gold, and manages to contain it all within his own imposing Irish frame. Don Cheadle also impresses as Agent Everett, an FBI consultant assisting in the search for a gang of ruthless smugglers (a sinister Liam Cunningham, a terrifying David Wilmot and Mark Strong doing what he does best), and makes a great straight man to Gleeson's less-than-serious Garda. There's numerous side-splitting moments of comedy in the blackest shade to be found in the film's beautifully penned script, by director John Michael McDonagh. Like his brother Martin, McDonagh seems to possess an uncanny ability to see the funny side of the bleakest of situations, and with the addition of a liberal sprinkling of Irish cultural eccentricities, The Guard becomes a real comic masterclass. Western iconography is also transferred surprisingly well from the American Old West to the film's rural Irish setting, with a particularly fine finale where Boyle and Everett go into battle against the bad guys, all guns blazing, a scene that could have been taken from any classic of the genre were it not for the presence of sea salt and copious Celtic-accented swearing. The Guard is a joy to watch - a sensational genre mash-up of cop films, buddy movies and Westerns with a cracking script, memorable performances and a healthy Irish pragmatic view on the world. Full Review »
  2. Aug 27, 2011
    10
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  3. Aug 26, 2011
    5
    The Guard has been guarding a tiny village outside of Galway, Ireland for a long time. He has his routines and his eccentricities and heThe Guard has been guarding a tiny village outside of Galway, Ireland for a long time. He has his routines and his eccentricities and he knows everyone elseâ Full Review »