The Guardian (2006)

DVD Cover (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Genres: Action, Adventure Drama
Ben Randall is a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. When his crew is killed in an accident and his marriage ends, his commander tells him he wants Randall to go to the US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer "A" School to train other rescue swimmers. He encounters a guy named Jake who's a little cocky because he was once a swim champion. So Ben puts him through the wringer to see if he can handle it. --IMDb
Andrew Davis Andrew Davis
Kevin Costner Kevin Costner
Ashton Kutcher Ashton Kutcher
Sela Ward Sela Ward
Melissa Sagemiller Melissa Sagemiller
Clancy Brown Clancy Brown

6.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 12, 2006
As much as you might hate Kevin Costner -- and with films like "Dragonfly" and "The Postman" -- you have every reason; as much as you might hate Ashton Kutcher -- and with films like "Guess Who" and "My Boss's Daughter" -- you have every reason; as much as you might hate the idea of these two starring in an action film together, I assure you it is not nearly as bad as you think. "The Guardian" suffers from a few things, but lackluster performances are certainly not one. Director Andrew Davis, who knows a thing or two about storytelling, as he demonstrated in "The Fugitive", helps to keep this ship from sinking, and he has a fine anchor in Kevin Costner, a veteran actor who has seen more ups and downs than a seesaw. "The Guardian" is one of those uplifting action films that doesn't really offer much in terms of substance, but still keeps you glued to the screen. It's like "Top Gun" meets "Ladder 49" set against the backdrop of "The Perfect Storm". And, it's pretty damned engaging.

Kevin Costner stars as the most decorated Coast Guard swimmer in Coast Guard history, Ben Randall. After every member of his crew dies in a freak accident, Randall takes some time off by teaching at a Coast Guard training camp, where he comes face to face with rookie Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher), an overzealous recruit who seems to be the epitome of a troublemaker. As Fischer gets further and further along in the program, Costner's character starts to see potential in the young man with the troubled past, which is eventually revealed to us. Costner's character suffers from flashbacks of the night when his team was killed, and he walks around for most of the film with a whistle in his mouth and a message in his heart. He does this much more convincingly than Tyrese did in the pathetic "Annapolis" from earlier in the year. What this film has that "Annapolis" did not is simple -- strong storytelling, strong performances, and some very engaging special effects sequences. In short, it doesn't suck.

Let's talk about that storytelling. Andrew Davis is a pro at combining action with the human condition, and he does so here. At over two hours, "The Guardian" gives us plenty of time to relate to these characters. They give us background information, they give each character enough time to establish themselves, and they give us time to grow attached to them. I cared about Kevin Costner's character, and I even ended up caring about Ashton Kutcher's character. The rescue scenes were filmed quite realistically and they brought out a lot of emotion and drama that might have been lost with a lesser director. Some of the rescue scenes in this film were marvelous to watch. "The Guardian" worked because it found a way to give us those pounding sequences of intensity, and yet lighten the mood at will in other ways. This was one of my true guilty pleasures of the year, right up there with "Congo" now.

And, now, for the performances. Kevin Costner was just wonderful here in a role that most could have just walked through blindly. Costner has been on a slow and steady comeback lately with an exceptional turn in "Open Range", a humorous romp through "Rumor Has It", and now back to his action roots with "The Guardian". What helps is that Davis was at the helm, and Costner did not decide to direct it. Costner does better, for the most part, when his ego is at a minimum. And, Ashton Kutcher finds a way to actually do some acting here. There were a couple of scenes where I had a hard time taking him seriously, but for the most part, he worked in this role. In the sequence where we find out why his character is so secretive about his part, he does a fine job -- he brings out an emotion and an innocence that makes us relate to his character even more. And, Sela Ward, Clancy Brown, and John Heard do rather well in their small supporting roles. Neal McDonough broods, as always, as a jerk.

So, in a nutshell, "The Guardian" swims, instead of sinks. It reminds us of the day when Kevin Costner was one of the A-listers we remember him to be. It reminds us of the days when an action film was more than just special effects. "The Guardian" gives us two lead characters that we care about, it puts them in situations that make us worry for them, and it gives us an ending that we totally expect, but just don't want to see until we absolutely have to. I was shocked that I enjoyed this film so much, and as cheesy as it was at times, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been and not nearly as bad as most probably wanted it to be. Kudos to Kevin Costner for his pseudo-comeback and to Ashton Kutcher for growing up. It took a long time for both to happen, but now that they have -- can't wait to see what's next.

7.5/10 -- For Ashton Kutcher Wet.
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