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The Guard: Arresting entertainment 

Rating: ***1/2

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson air out their differences in The Guard. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson air out their differences in The Guard. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

Nobody can curse like the Irish, and that's proven again in The Guard (***1/2 out of four), in which the various characters turn profanity into an art form. But this delightful endeavor — one of the year's best as we prepare to head into the Oscar-bait seasons — doesn't just provide an amusing workout for the R rating; instead, it's a savagely clever yarn that manages to tweak genre staples before burying them completely. In Sergeant Gerry Boyle, Brendan Gleeson finds a great character to inhabit, and he's dynamic as the rural cop who doesn't let much ruffle his feathers — not even murder. When FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) appears on the scene to investigate drug smuggling, the two engage in a testy relationship made strenuous by Boyle's mock-racist cracks ("Did you grow up in the projects?") and Everett's big-city-superiority routine. Meanwhile, the villains (Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong and David Wilmot) conduct their business as usual, taking time out to philosophize, criticize, and grow exasperated at the weaker minds surrounding them. Naturally, it all leads to a final showdown, but most viewers won't be prepared for the capper. The Guard is terrific entertainment, and I can't wait to re-watch it on Blu-ray, when I can turn on the subtitles and catch the handful of lines I couldn't locate under those thick brogues.

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