|Ron L. Brinkerhoff
|Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Sela Ward, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown
|November 30, 2006
I saw The Guardian at a special charity screening to raise money for Surf Life Saving in Queensland. It’s worth noting because the job our surf lifesavers do is very similar to that of the U.S. Coast Guard, the group of brave men on which the film is based.
Ben Randall (Costner) is one of the best rescue swimmers in the Coast Guard. Over the course of his long career, he’s saved hundreds of people in treacherous situations. Putting his life on the line every week has strained his relationship with wife, Helen (Ward). She’d prefer that he retire or take an easy desk job.
Ben is in for a change but it’s not one he was looking for. After seeing his long-time partner die in the field, Ben is asked to take a break by the powers that be. They think he needs time to recover from the emotional scarring that comes with such an event. Ben disagrees of course but orders are orders.
Asked to help train the latest Coast Guard recruits, Ben reluctantly accepts. It is here where most of the film is set. Ben toughens the recruits with an unorthodox training regime which separates the best from the rest. Along the way, he becomes particular close to one – a gun swimmer named Jake Fischer (Kutcher). There’s no doubt that Jake has talent but Ben can’t quite figure him out. Why has he joined the Coast Guard when he could just as easily be an Olympic swimmer?
The film has a climax but it takes a long time to get to. The bulk of the film is spent getting to know the characters during the training regime. There are some light-hearted moments but this area of the movie should have been shortened. You may also agree when you consider the running time is 136 minutes.
It wasn’t until after I’d seen the movie when I first saw the trailer. Like so many films these days, it gives away 99% of the story. Why do studios keep doing this? Given that it’s a fairly standard Hollywood blockbuster, the advertisers should be looking for any way possible to make it look fresh and unpredictable.