The Guard

Rated 4.0

Writer-director John Michael McDonagh, whose brother Martin wrote and directed In Bruges, carries on the family talent for wry, satisfying Brendan Gleeson action comedy. Here Gleeson and Don Cheadle play reluctant-buddy lawmen—respectively a prickly, provincial Irish cop and an uptight FBI guy—brought together by a trio of transient drug smugglers (Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong and David Wilmot) whose plans they hope to thwart. It’s boilerplate stuff, with McDonagh even laying on a few tired Quentin Tarantino touches here and there, but the actors (also including a puckish Fionnula Flanagan as the Irish cop’s mom) carry it off with contagious good cheer. Cheadle’s recessive touch lets you admire his taste for getting next to Gleeson, whose gruffly heroic self-possession supplies great wit and warmth.