Chris is right about Moneyball. Its biggest failing is that it's only really good and not great. It does everything right that a Hollywood movie should do. It's smart and interesting and easy to watch. And then, when it's all over, you feel satisfied, but not in any lasting way. I'm starting to warm to Sorkin. The film's greatest strengths and weaknesses are found in the script. Sorkin's biggest flaw, as far as I can see, is that he'll often have characters deliver plot points instead of proper dialogue. This keeps things moving along briskly, but the characters are always in service of an Idea. Character doesn't matter as long as we get the point.
The Guard, on the other hand, offers an abundance of pleasures. And an abundance of Character. There is a "moral" or a "Big Idea" here, but it only finds expression in and through personality.
The film is a bit uneven and often, especially in the beginning, errs on the side of silliness. This would be a weakness if the silliness weren't so danged endearing. Okay, it's still definitely a weakness. Your enjoyment of this movie will probably depend on how much you're able to smile along at the winking.
The protagonist, the guard Boyle, is extremely likable. At least, I like him.
I had a fond, emotional response to this film.
Boyle goes about his job in a manner I can only respect, lightheartedly avoiding all the layers of bullshit (always present) while finishing the real work set before him, the important "relational" (what a stupid word, I just put Brandon to sleep again) parts; proving to others that the only way to take your work seriously is to take it all lightly. Get the work done and ignore the bureaucracy.
Brief indiscretion with a pair of prostitutes aside, Boyle is a fucking role model. I admire his work ethic.
(Pardon the sudden lapse in language. It is obligatory to drop at least one f-bomb in any review of any film written and/or directed by a McDonagh.)
The film also features the best philosophically-minded criminals since the Dude and Walter faced off with those Nihilists.
In so many ways, this is the same "unorthodox cop" genre movie that you've seen dozens of times before. It knowingly comments on that genre with a wink and a nod in several directions at once. Still, this isn't a deconstruction in the sense that Drive is. The Guard laughs at some of the genre constructions, but ultimately upholds them and especially values self-sacrificial Virtue.
Brendan Gleeson is fantastic as always.
Finally, I want to point out that the Calexico score is among the best of the year, if not THE best of the year.
I won't say any more. Watch it. I expect some of you to disagree with me. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks.
There's a quieter moment in the film that marks the exact spot that I fell in love.
Here's a picture:
Killing Little Protestants. That's Funny.