The Guardian
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A high school swim champion with a troubled past enrolls in the U.S. Coast Guard's "A" School, where legendary rescue swimmer Ben Randall teaches him some hard lessons about loss, love, and self-sacrifice

September 28, 2006

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The Guardian

Reviewed by sproque

"The Guardian" Needed a Guardian Angel

“The Guardian” could have been a good film. It begins as a spectacular piece of cinematography as Sr. Chief Randall, played by Kevin Costner jumps out of a Coast Guard helicopter and saves a couple from drowning in the Baltic Sea. A little while later he’s back at it again, only to be faced with disaster (everyone knew that was coming). What makes the movie not so good is that after being smashed in the face (somewhat literally) with heartbreak, tragedy, and age, he gets sent to some Naval Academy to teach Coast Guard class (initiation) to eager early twenty-somethings. And there, he encounters standout, star, stud? swimmer “Fish,” played by grandma groping punker Ashton Kutcher. Ashton can’t act, he looks like a swimmer though, he’s pretty lanky (more like stretchy, like silly putty). He locks horns with Randall at the academy, breaks all of his swimming records, and is at first cocky, then becomes humble, blah blah blah. Fish’s growth is not important here. What is important though, is the love relationship that he attains while at the academy (I didn’t know trainees were allowed to court). He meets a girl and they start corresponding at bars, and it is painful to watch. Kutcher! You’re a comedian! (I guess). I don’t wanna see your mug on the silver screen!
The movie just gets a lot less interesting once it adverts to Coast Guard school. It could have been a heroic, sea thriller that honors the brave men and women of the Coast Guard, but instead, the body of the film is an eighty-minute “Annapolis.” Costner (contrary to popular opinion) is a good actor, but he can’t shout! He’s supposed to be some sort of drill instructer/teacher, but he can’t raise his voice. It’s agonizing, all the other instructors were yelling, screaming, and humiliating the students, but Costner lacks the tracheatical capability. This vocal deficiency may sound like a forgivable deficiency, but it is just a glaring deficiency here.
Since Kutcher is a big shot, little emphasis is placed on the other members of his class. We see the class a lot, but only like four of them have speaking parts (it’s probably better they don’t have speaking parts, come to think of it) because their acting was horrific. In short, the movie should not have transferred to Coast Guard school. It is so cliché, it’s been done so many times, it’s a flippin copout if you ask me. The film should have been about the Coast Guard, taking place in the Baltic Sea, with Costner as the old veteran and Kutcher as his sidekick. That could have made for a great movie. But instead, we get a clunky story, some good acting (Costner, a couple others), and some horrible acting (Kutcher in terms of his little love relationship, all the students at the academy except one). Also the film is about 35 minutes to long, it’s like 140 minutes.
At the end of the film, we’re back at the Baltic Sea (we never should have left, did I mention that?), and the films end relatively well. To sum up, good suspense, bad acting, good tribute to the coast guard, bad story that could have been good, and a fine score. “The Guardian” is too long, but it is uplifting. A decent rental if you’re bored. 2 ½ stars. Pg-13 disaster related peril, brief strong language, and mild sexual content.

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