The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 96 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Crime thriller
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, Fionnula Flanagan
Written & Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
Music by: Calexico
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 3, 2011
"An unorthodox crime story"
THE GUARD is a comedic, fish out of water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two cops (Gleeson and Cheadle) one an unorthodox Irish policeman and the other, a straitlaced FBI agent, must join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.
Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a small-town Irish cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett to his door. The Guard is a darkly comedic crime story that revolves around Brendan Gleeson's portrayal of Sgt. Gerry Boyle, an acidic, longtime policeman with his own set of values and little regard for anything that ventures outside of them. When Wendell comes to town with the news of a band of drug traffickers seeking to bring in a half billion dollar load of cocaine, Gerry decides to handle both Wendell and the criminals in his own very particular way.
I really enjoyed this character driven, quirky crime thriller/comedy. I will say that I had a hard time understanding some of the dialogue through the heavy brogue but it was nothing that a little rewinding didn't solve. This isn't a deep whodunit or gratifying crime stopper. It's a wonderfully rewarding and well played character study about a guy who is of the surliest narcissistic order who proves that you can't always judge a book by its cover. Gleeson is clearly the star of the show but watching he and Don Cheadle trade blows is simply a hoot. Equally fun is listening to the cracking banter among the three villains played perfectly by the always reliable Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham and David Wilmot. Honorable mention goes out to Fionnula Flanagan in the role of Gerry Boyle's ailing (F bomb) dropping mum. The Guard isn't high brow entertainment, it's a down to earth, funny and well scripted film that is the total sum of its parts. It moves a little slow early on but if you hang in there it pays dividends.
The rating is for pervasive language, some violence, drug material, and sexual content.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Guard comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 36 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.
This is an excellent video presentation that boasts plenty of high level detail, boldly applied contrast, rich colors, and appreciable dimensional perspective. Fleshtones are lifelike and exhibit warm yet descriptive complexional tonality. Blacks are punchy and visibility in low lighting/darkened areas is estimable. Images are dynamic, clearly drawn, and well suited for the source material. I noticed a little low level digital noise in a few dark backgrounds but it didn't rise to egregious levels. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack presents the film's soundtrack with aplomb. The sound mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail enhances the detection of less prominent sound effects and the subtle nuance in the music score's instrumentation. The film is essentially driven by dialogue and other than the exchange of gunfire in the final act there is little call for deep bass and room filling sound effects. The surround channels supply occasional rear channel ambience which extends the front soundstage from time to time but otherwise the focus remains front oriented. I didn't feel as though the presentation was lacking in way and thought it sounded fine.
- Commentary with director John Michael McDonagh, Don Cheadle, and Brendan Gleeson
- (HD) Making of the Guard - 19 minute featurette
- The Second Death - 2000 short film by writer/director John Michael McDonagh
- Outtakes - 3 minutes
- Q&A with director John Michael McDonagh, Don Cheadle, and Brendan Gleeson from the LA Film Fest
- 3 deleted scenes
- 12 extended & alternate scenes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- BD-Live enabled
The Guard is an unorthodox and darkly comedic crime story that isn't high brow entertainment, but makes for a down to earth, funny and well scripted film that is well worth its 96 minute runtime. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video quality and a complimentary assortment of bonus supplements. The Guard is recommended especially if you're in the mood for something a little different.
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