User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 93 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 77 out of 93
  2. Negative: 8 out of 93

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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 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!
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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!!!
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 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

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.