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Monday, October 23, 2006

***½ The Guardian. Action/adventure drama.

Directed by: Andrew Davis
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher

We saw this on Saturday, at Baumholder again. We made a day of it--first the Tierpark, (large petting zoo), then Taco Bell, then the movie.

The Guardian wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. It was pretty much a standard military movie, on the order of, say, Top Gun, or a dozen others. Every bit of plot was predictable, from the best friend dying at the beginning, to the cocky kid the instructor is extra tough on because he reminds him of himself, to the romance, right down to the ending.

Kevin Costner plays a Coast Guard rescue swimmer whose wife left him, and his best friend died in a rescue gone bad, and when he gets out of the hospital, he's sent to the school to train rescue swimmers. Ashton Kutcher is the cocky kid.

The beginning, with the wife leaving, sparked one of my rants on the way home--it was never explained, beyond a general "he was married to his job", and since they'd obviously been together a long time, there really needed to be a precipitating factor. I could believe there had been one, but not being privy to it, I couldn't feel sympathy for either of them. It reminded me of the Tom Clancy books with the inexplicable wives. Because women, you know, don't really have reasons for the stuff they do. (told you I ranted--be grateful I got it mostly out of my system)

The other part that really bugged me was the romance Ashton Kutcher's character had with a local school teacher. There was zero chemistry between the characters. In short, I didn't believe either relationship thread, and they seemed tacked on to fill in a checklist. It was a long movie--136 minutes--so I wouldn't have missed it if they'd just cut those parts out entirely.

The rescue scenes and the training scenes, and the Coast Guard itself, were the real stars of the movie. The Coast Guard is really underrepresented in movies, and it was nice to get a picture of them.

Quibble: why, why, why, does every single movie with a disaster at sea have the scene with characters in a room slowly filling with water, and the water always gets almost to the ceiling before they're rescued? It always happens. And in The Guardian, it went on far too long. There's a point in an action scene where tension turns to boredom. This scene passed that point.

As for the acting, I like Kevin Costner, generally, and he was fine in this movie. I've no complaints. Ashton Kutcher was fine in the action/adventure scenes, but in the romance scenes, he had the same emotional depth as in the classroom scenes. It was like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, but without the charm.

Secondary characters: I did enjoy the bartender (played by Bonnie Bramlett)--she wasn't a stock character, and had a lot of the funny &/or insightful lines in the film. I also liked the other instructor (played by Neal McDonough), mostly because he surprised me. I expected the usual rival, but instead, he behaved the way I'd expect the character to in real life.

Bottom line: if you like this kind of movie, you'll enjoy The Guardian. Just don't expect anything new.


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Hey great review! I probably won't see this movie, but it sounds pretty good if you like that type of flick. :)
Yea, that's the sense I got from the trailers I saw. Good to know. Thanks.
Cutting the local romance would've help this movie a lot, IMO. That last scene? Totally useless. A better ending would've been the last rescue and the narration about the fisher of men. But then, I've been told that I'm picky about stuff like that. While I love romance, I hate seeing HEA epilogues tacked on to non-romance movies.
Oh, exactly. Maybe it's because I like romance that I don't like it when it's just tacked on, and not well developed.

I got the impression that they were trying to go for an Officer and a Gentleman ending, but because there was no oomph to the romance, it fell flat.
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