IF you enjoyed Brendan Gleeson’s performance in the superb In Bruges, in which he and Colin Farrell played a couple of Irishmen holed up in the Belgian town, you’ll love his turn as THE GUARD (15: Studio Canal).
The bear-like actor is terrific as an anti-hero in this caustic buddy-cop drama set in the wild west of Ireland.
His foul-mouthed police sergeant Gerry Boyle thinks nothing of swallowing the odd dodgy pill taken from a crash victim’s pocket or having a day off to visit prostitutes.
But his cushy life is disrupted by a murder, a drug smuggling ring and the arrival of strait-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle).
Despite the fact that Boyle seems more interested in mocking and undermining Everett than working to solve the case, he finds that circumstances keep pulling him back into the thick of it.
First his tiresomely enthusiastic new partner disappears, then his favourite hooker tries to blackmail him into turning a blind eye and finally the drug-traffickers attempt to buy him off as they have every other member of the local police force.
Though in many ways Boyle is a dreadful policeman with his murky moral code, he gradually reveals some deeper humanity in touching scenes with his dying mother.
Sharply written and directed, and nicely filmed in drizzly greys and greens, The Guard is the most successful independent Irish film of all time, overtaking the box offfice receipts of The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006).
> When you see Jason Statham in a movie cast list you know exactly what you are going to get.
The permanently scowling action star borders on caricature in KILLER ELITE (15: Entertainment In Video), but the talents of Robert De Niro and Clive Owen are wasted in this laborious shoot-’em-up.
Set in the 1980s, Statham is Danny, a retired mercenary forced into one last job when his mentor (De Niro) is held hostage by a renegade sheikh.
Danny’s mission is to kill the British SAS officers who the sheikh believes were responsible for the deaths of three of his sons.
But his every move is being monitored by a shadowy group of ex-government and military high-fliers intent on protecting their own.
Loosely based on a true story, the film is adapted from Ranulph Fiennes’ book The Feather Men, which met with controversy when it was published.
Sadly the liberal use of dramatic licence reduces the proceedings to a bog-standard thriller, most of the fast-cut action sequences are predictable and much of the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious.
> I expected a great deal from COLOMBIANA (15: Entertainment In Video) as the mix involved vicious Latin American drug wars, the shapely Zoe Saldana, of Avatar fame, and cult French film-maker Luc Besson. Yet despite promising brutality, raunchiness and thrills aplenty, the reality is a surprisingly tame affair that fails to really deliver.
Starting with a lengthy preamble that sketches the tragic backstory of young Cataleya, who was nine when she witnessed her parents’ murder in Colombia in 1992, the action shifts to the present day.
Cataleya is all grown up and living in Miami where she wages a one-woman war against the gangs responsible for the killings.
It’s a refreshing change to see a woman handling the artillery, and Saldana is certainly a credible and sexy action heroine, but the story sticks to formulaic territory as Cataleya leads a clueless FBI officer on a merry dance while he investigates her ever more elaborate and ridiculous assassinations.
> Investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre’s feature-length documentary A Very British Gangster was a major success in which he built a relationship with notorious Manchester gangster Dominic Noonan.
The sequel, SINS OF THE FATHER: A VERY BRITISH GANGSTER 2 (15: High Fliers), sees the pair reunited after Noonan is released from prison.
The film examines Noonan’s struggle to adjust to his freedom now that he no longer holds power in the underworld and is under constant police surveillance. It also follows his son as he decides what to do with his life.