The Guard (2011)
Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh
This movie doesn't sound that good on paper. The publicity throws around phrases like "fish-out-of-water comedy" and "buddy cop movie" like they're going out of fashion and it could very easily have been another unmemorable movie of the genre. Its posters describe it as "a raucous comedy", which totally missells it - it's much more In Bruges than Lethal Weapon, thanks to pitch-black deadpan script and direction from John Michael McDonagh, coincidentally (or not) the brother of Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed the aforementioned In Bruges.
Both also star Brendan Gleeson, on top form again as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, managing to craft a character who could either be incredibly stupid, crass and oblivious or very very sharp, depending on your interpretation. It's Gleeson that is the backbone of the movie - it's not really a traditional buddy cop movie at all, despite Don Cheadle's presence as an FBI agent out to catch drug smugglers in Gleeson's quiet corner of western Ireland. Think Bad Lieutenant meets Father Ted and you'd have a closer definition of what the movie feels like. Cheadle's straight man is there as a bonus. The film is all Gleeson's, from the deadpan opening to the Spaghetti Western-esque final confrontation.
There's great support too in the form of Boyle’s cancer stricken mother (Fionnula Flanagan), the wife of his new partner (Katarina Kas) and a trio of drug smugglers (Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot and Mark Strong) who always seem to be bemoaning their lot and quoting philosophy. But it's Gleeson's movie and, despite the trailers trying to sell his character as a straightforward "eccentric comedy racist", he's far more complicated and compelling than that and the humor of the movie far more dry and subversive.