The Guardian - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Director Andrew Davis And Writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff; Alternative Ending – Includes On-Camera Introduction By Director Andrew Davis; Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Andrew Davis And Writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff; Making Waves – The Making Of The Guardian; Unsung Hereos – A Tribute To The Real Life USCG Heroes.
THE US Coast Guard gets the Top Gun treatment in The Guardian, a mildly entertaining but ridiculously soggy offering from Andrew Davis (of The Fugitive fame).
Designed as a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the rescue swimmers whose heroism goes largely unnoticed, the film ultimately feels more like a pastiche of countless other movies that have mostly been done better.
Kevin Costner plays grizzled Coast Guard veteran Ben Randall who is assigned to teach new recruits following the death of his crew during a fatal rescue mission off the coast of Alaska.
Ashton Kutcher, meanwhile, is cocky young recruit Jake Fischer, a former swimming champ with his eye on breaking records rather than becoming part of a team.
Needless to say, Ben and Jake go head to head in a battle of wills that’s designed to bring out the best in the young upstart, while exorcising the demons from the mentor’s past.
To be fair, there’s a certain amount of fun to be had in watching The Guardian, especially in ticking off the references to other movies such as Top Gun, An Officer & A Gentleman and Heartbreak Ridge.
Costner and Kutcher also share some nice chemistry and several of the training sequences contain witty asides.
Kutcher, especially, has some nice scenes that hint at more to the actor than just playing the fool and he certainly doesn’t fluff his ‘big dramatic moment’.
But while the first three quarters of the film provide largely throwaway fun, the extended climax drags it so far underwater that it’s simply beyond rescue.
Davis, the director, just doesn’t know when to call it a day and proceeds to pile on the sentiment while playing up the sacrifice involved in becoming a Coast Guard swimmer.
Hence, one dramatic rescue sequence is swiftly followed by another before the overblown denouement completely smashes the film’s credibility amid a tidal wave of cliche.
Things turn out especially bad for Costner, who should really be wary of sea-based blockbusters in light of his experience with Waterworld. Far from being dramatic, his fate becomes unwittingly comical.
As for the notion of paying tribute to the Coast Guard itself, the film seems to make a point of losing someone or getting something wrong every time a rescue attempt is made.
The result is an overlong experience that fails to inspire any feelings of sadness or appreciation and which will probably leave viewers gasping for the nearest exit in search of dry land.
Running time: 2hrs 19mins