"I'm sick and tired of the people we have to deal with in this business," Mark Strong's drug-smuggling hood, Clive, moans.
And John Michael McDonagh's sensationally funny crime comedy gleefully revels in messing with, and even mocking, genre conventions. Brendan Gleeson, so good as a gangster in In Bruges (directed by Martin McDonagh, John Michael's brother), is magnificent as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a whoring, drug-taking, anti-establishment copper. Stationed in Galway, Boyle and his new, doomed (in the best tradition), by-the-book partner (Rory Keenan) discover a hit at a cottage, and it soon becomes clear that international drug smugglers are operating on their patch. When Don Cheadle's FBI investigator, Wendell Everett, is called in to help out, it's the cue for a fish-out-of-water/odd couple movie in the vein of 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, In the Heat of the Night etc. But The Guard's cuter than that. Cheadle's earnest agent appears genuinely mystified by Boyle's perverse and tactless utterances: "You being an FBI agent, you're more used to shooting at unarmed women and children." Wendell can't tell whether he's really smart or really dim – but the seemingly guileless Boyle has much more about him than his bloated cheeks. Cheadle plays it admirably straight as Boyle's only ally and Fionnula Flanagan is a hoot as Boyle's foul-mouthed mother, but this is the very smart Gleeson's film.