User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 95 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 79 out of 95
  2. Negative: 8 out of 95

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  1. Sep 12, 2012
    The 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. Expand
  2. Aug 26, 2011
    The 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
  3. Aug 23, 2011
    I had expectations for this film but it is a flop. There is nothing funny or entertaining here. The film seemed like a bunch of outtakes picked off the cutting floor and stitched together. The humor was painful particularly the racial shots. How this got a high rating amazes me. I knew "Tree of Life" would bore me but this was even worse. Cheadle and Gleeson should hide their heads in shame. Eveything sucked in this film. THE SCRIPT, THE PLOT, THE JOKES,THE ACTING,! DREADFUL! Expand
  4. Aug 20, 2011
    Considering the generally glowing reviews, the movie was a disappointment. The title character, played by Brendon Gleeson, seems contrived. He is sort of a mass of contradictions thrown together in desperate hopes that a quirky protagonist will emerge. He is secretly brilliant and highly competent, but casually drops acid found at a crime scene, consorts with hookers, ignores basic rules of police procedure, and "hilariously" slings racial stereotypes at a stiff Don Cheadle (isn't he aware the rat pack was doing this 40+ years ago, and it wasn't all that funny back then?) . Speaking of Cheadle, after emerging as one of the most interesting young film actors of the '90s, this film is something of a low point for him. He's supposed to be the stuffed shirt to Gleeson's loose cannon, but he just doesn't connect. This is just another inter-racial buddy cop movie, this time with a sometimes unintelligle Irish accent. Expand
  5. Aug 8, 2011
    Loved this flick; Gleeson is incredible as always and interplay with Cheadle is hilarious. The only downside is that it could have used sub-titles because some of the dialogue is very hard to catch; but the tone is always there. Right along side of In Brugges for dark comedy; a must see!
  6. Feb 23, 2012
    Brendan Gleeson! Brendan Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson and once again... Brendan Gleeson!

    A beautiful little, perfectly written and all-around marvelously acted film which is tightly packaged and wrapped up with a magnificent performance by Brendan Gleeson (have I mentioned him already?).

    This little tit-bit from Ireland provides a couple of hours of pure fun, sentiment (real sentiment that
    is, not Hollywood-manufactured "one man starts clapping and the rest join in" sentiment), intelligent and enjoyable dialogue and hits the nail right on the cap as far as what a movie's supposed to do for its viewer. It entertains from top to bottom without trying to go too far or leave you waiting for it to end. If I had to sum this film up in one line it would be: Just the right amount of everything! (+ Brendan Gleeson :)) ). Expand
  7. Aug 2, 2011
    Gleeson & Cheadle are terrific together - another law enforcement odd couple. The movie has much more fun with their racial/cultural/linguistic differences than previous shots at this genre. Some of the dialogue was a little tough to follow (for this American) early in the film, and it's not the most ambitious movie of the year, but well worth seeing.
  8. Jun 4, 2012
    Not quite as funny as I'd hoped, but great in places. Fantastic performance from Brendan Gleeson and it's always good to see Mark Strong. Don Cheadle wasn't bad, either.
  9. Jan 26, 2012
    Really funny. Hands down the best movie of 2011 for me (not the strongest endorsement I know). Brendon Gleason simply glides through this movie dropping joke after joke after joke with great Irish charm. Don Cheadle plays an awesome foil to Gleason's irreverence, and it would be hard to name another actor that could have played the roll as well as he. Everything just comes together nicely in this film, script, performances, editing, directing, and it was a delight to see in the theatre. Expand
  10. Sep 11, 2011
    Brendan Gleeson stars as an cheeky police officer in a small Irish village. A huge drug deal brings an American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to this fish-out-of-water comedy. While an irreverent spirit pervades the police procedural and provides gentle chuckles, the plot is pretty ho-hum. This is the kind of genteel, mildly amusing comedy that the older, "cinema" crowds soaks up.
  11. Sep 12, 2011
    What a new and surprising plot... Old jaded slightly corrupt but with a heart of gold cop, gets put in harness with a dedicated up and comer UK-FBI type who he hares, and they get on badly until ... amazing switcheroo folks... in the final scenes they go up against impossible odds together... I know your as surprised as we were :-( And then folks, the clever old double-switcheroo... which leaves you with a plain oatmeal flavored D. B. Cooper style ending... WOW! Author, author ! It was good to see Mad-Eye Moody (Gleeson) actaully does have another eye... which he should have used to have a good look at this script before he signed on). Don Cheadle is an excellent actor, completely wasted on this script as his characters main motivation is apparently to express ineffective resentment at racist slights from Gleeson's over the hill loudmouth character. To sum up, this is a script that leaves the actors high and dry, and the audience wondering why the ads on the popcorn bag are so interesting. It's an OK movie... but just barely. If there isn't anything good on TV, you might go... but, don't expect to be on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, this film is not greater than the sum of it's rather pedestrian parts. Expand
  12. May 12, 2014
    The Guard is another great black comedy that had me laughing hard in all the right places. It shares it's DNA (not to mention star) with the similarly fantastic In Bruges. Plus it has a hilarious turn from Mark Strong. All round excellent stuff.
  13. Aug 15, 2011
    I looked forward to seeing this movie but it was a disappointment. Don Cheadle was very good, and I always like him. Every other word in this movie was the f*** word. Is that really necessary? I don't think so. The premise of the movie is solid, but I think it could have been a lot better. I laughed at times, and I really like low-key humor, but this wasn't clever in the least.
  14. Jan 6, 2012
    One of the best films of the year. A formula kind of movie that both embraces and breaks out of the formula. Outstanding acting, and excellent script and mix of comedy and drama. Really worked for me. Gleason should be a contender for best actor.
  15. Sep 12, 2011
    A thoroughly entertaining film from start to finish. Brendan Gleeson excels once more and Don Cheadle isn't to bad either! This fish-out-of-water tail see's a huge drug deal bring a top FBI agent (Cheadle) to Ireland, however in the midst of all this is a cheeky, sly local cop (Gleeson) who becomes embroiled. Gleeson is the star of the show no doubt but he and Cheadle bounce of each other very well and bring some outrageously funny moments with its cultural, racial differences which certainly brings a huge element of freshness to the genre. But a huge deal of credit must go to the writer and director of this film in John Michael McDonagh who delivers a sheer delight of a movie that is up their with his best, not quite "In Bruges" but still an immensly funny with great entertainment value that you can't go wrong with. Expand
  16. Apr 11, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. As an Irishman, I found this film to be very funny and hugely entertaining. I think the main reason this film didn't really work outside of Ireland is that most of the jokes concern Irish politics, culture and general life in Ireland, meaning a few foreign audiences found comedic moments plain confusing rather than hilarious. I also loved Brendan Gleeson's performance as the title character. He perfectly captures the personality and accent of a typical West Irish man and I feel he was a perfect choice for the role. I also thought that Don Cheadle was great too. The only thing I didn't like was that I thought that the Aidan McBride character was given too short of a role in the story and I would have liked to have seen him more, mostly because the chemistry between Sgt. Boyle and him was so great and for me it was a shame McBride was killed off so early in the film. But apart from that, I would easily say this is one of my 10 favorite films of all time. Expand
  17. Aug 21, 2011
    Brilliant, The Guard, Brendan Gleeson's wit, Mark Strong's understatedness and the diving boards in Salthill!!! Forget about 'rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens'... These are a few of my favourite things!!!
  18. Aug 21, 2011
    Not perfect, like you & me, but thoroughly entertaining and will make you laugh. There are flaws in the editing, but the story line is entertaining and has a surprise ending that will mystify you.
  19. Sep 9, 2011
    Gleeson was great, but Cheadle's character was flat and uninteresting. His lines consisted mostly of some variation on an offended "Excuse me?", to heighten the outrageousness of Gleeson's quips. In fact, his whole character is there only as a foil for Boyle (hey, that rhymes!). "I can't figure out if you're really stupid or really smart." The same kind of amateurish writing is on display in the multiple scenes where the bad guys actually say things like, "We can't do that, we're drug traffickers!" As if the screenwriter was afraid the audience wouldn't get the irony and hilarity of something they were doing or saying unless he reminded us that these were the bad guys. Overall, a few funny moments or lines, but mostly unfunny and uneven. Expand
  20. Sep 18, 2011
    It's one of those bizarre little concoctions where you strangely find yourself rooting for a despicable human being and laughing until your lungs hurt while doing so.
    The Guard is black comedy at its best embracing Irish comedy making it almost a mix between Father Ted and In Bruges (also starring Gleeson). It may sound like a strange mix but its one that plays out smoothly with both
    Gleeson and Cheadle giving subtle yet quirky performances embracing the films dark side while also lightening the mood when necessary. The Guards main flaw however is that it tries to hard to make Gleeson's character seem intelligent, the viewer can see that already without Cheadle pointing it out in a clunky piece of dialogue that serves very little purpose. By the end of it your lungs will hurt and you will be aching for some more snappy one liners. Expand
  21. Jun 24, 2013
    A dark and often hilarious comedy that relies on the charm of the Irish nature and person, or lack thereof.
    The working success of The Guard is it doesn't trade itself in fro a Hollywood payday, but maintains its roots and works off the gullible but serious charisma and country attitude of the Irish. It is never trying to forward or make the characters more likeable, but keeps the comedy
    rolling right to the end, regardless of how far each character has come.Each and every character we run into from Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) to the Irish-only speaking couple ("Go to England if you want to speak English") has some comical and deadpan stroke of genius to come along with them.
    Gerry is a a set in his ways old timer who is crude, unintentionally racist and seemingly bored with his quiet job, his confrontational attitude gets him in all sorts of trouble when the FBI, led by Wendell (Don Cheadle), are unhappy with his very different approach to policing.
    The comedy is dark and offensively brilliant at every turn, with much of the dialogue sometimes being almost untranslatable, which seems a deliberate device used to paint over the obscenity of what is actually being said. This is of course expertly lead by Gleeson, whose expression rarely changes and his straight and serious face adds to the hilarity, especially how in the face of danger, he will have you laughing, in a situation where it calls for emotion, it is the entire opposite.The surprising duo of Gleeson and Cheadle is dynamic and well thought of, with Gleeson's Boyle making a quip about his partner.
    Much like the reactions of Mark Strong's character in the, many will be baffled to the absurdity and nature of the Irish humour and sometimes naivety, some of the film might just be understood by us on the tiny green island.
    The strong, unique and comedic cast have created a welcome surprise of a film, and regardless of the big names that have been tapped to star, Gleeson stays very Irish in the film while Cheadle never forgets he is American, it is a quotable and crude journey of hilarity and a true gem, the only drawback being that it just didn't go on for lone enough.
  22. Nov 22, 2011
    This film is boring, and i think i'm going to comitt suicide.
    The argument is a crap, but the main actor as a funny cotes.
    I don't recomend this film.
  23. Mar 2, 2012
    If you liked En Bruges you'll like this. The writer / director is back along with a once again wonderful Mr. Gleeson. The sidekick this time, Mr. Cheadle does not have the same meaty part that Mr Farrell did, but he is good in a subdued performance. All the supporting players are well cast and add to the film in pivotal spots. The film belongs to the creation of Gerry from the written word. He forms a multilayered good guy who you may want to just give a hug to, except he won't let you. The story surrounding Gerry doesn't really matter; killers, drugs, sex, corruption. I loved the Guard and wouldn't mind him in my town, looking out for me. Wonderful ending which allows me an even greater root that maybe he will turn up in a continuing series. You may need the subtitles but it doesn't detract from the film. A solid "A" effort. Expand
  24. Dec 17, 2011
    I went into the movie with low expectations and I was pleasantly surprise when I actually enjoyed it. Dark humor which never went over the top and it kept me engaged throughout the film. I would recommend it to anyone who likes dark humor.
  25. Jan 6, 2012
    The Guard is a comedic fish-out-of-water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two policemen must join forces to take on an international drug- smuggling gang - one, an unorthodox Irish policeman and the other, a straitlaced FBI agent. Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleason) is an eccentric small-town cop with a confrontational and crass personality and a subversive sense of humor. A longtime policeman in County Galway, Boyle is a maverick with his own moral code. He has seen enough of the world to know there isn't much to it and has had plenty of time to think about it. When a fellow police officer disappears and Boyle's small town becomes key to a large drug trafficking investigation, he is forced to at least feign interest when dealing with the humorless FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) assigned to the case. Expand
  26. Jan 25, 2012
    This is a solid film in every aspect. With fun writing and great performances by Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, The Guard will make you laugh and will make you glad you watched it.
  27. Feb 9, 2012
    Great film. The acting by the lead character was to me oscar worthy [though the acadamy does not recognize these kind of movies]. The film was smart and simple at the same time and funny all the way. Watch it.
  28. Feb 29, 2012
    I thought this was a very cleaver movie. The dialogue kept us laughing and Gleeson was great. There is some criticism of Cheadle's role, but he served as a great punching bag for Gleeson, so I was ok with him. Clearly the film was built around Gleeson's character. I liked the ending. I would not reccomend this movie for everyone, but for those who like dry/black humor and enjoy cleaver dialogue, this is your movie. Expand
  29. Jul 29, 2014
    The Guard is a solid film and is a true showcase of Brendan Gleeson's acting talent. Don Cheadle is also very good and his chemistry with Gleeson is a definite plus for this film. On top of the acting, John Michael McDonagh's direction is strong and you can definitely tell that his brother is the director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. The script is also very strong and witty and really does a good job developing its characters. The comedy is also pretty strong throughout, but especially in the second half, as it really kicks it into overgear. Gleeson's character is very crude, but hilarious and his delivery of punchlines is great. On top of that, the thriller element is well executed and exciting to watch unfold. The ending is also very well done and leaves you guessing. Overall, this one is an entertaining film with great performances from Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle and enough laughs and thrills to leave you feeling satisfied. Expand

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: Mike Scott
    Sep 2, 2011
    An Ireland-set charmer oozing with a satisfying intelligence and driven by the considerable charisma of Brendan Gleeson ("Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows").
  2. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Aug 25, 2011
    The Guard is guilty of being overly cute, but it brims with talent and a freshness that extends beyond the clever script.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Aug 20, 2011
    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.