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October 2006
The Guardian


By Wilson Morales

The Guardian

Distributor: Touchstone Pictures
Director: Andrew Davis
Screenwriter: Ron L. Brinkerhoff
Cast: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Neal McDonough, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown, Brian Geraghty, Sela Ward
Reviewed at: NYC AMC Lincoln Square
   


 


How many times have we seen a film where you have an older actor teamed up with a younger one? Yes, an infinite amount of times, but Hollywood keeps churning them out hoping one of these films connects with the audience. Normally the premise is something along the lines of the elder teaching the young one the tricks of the trade in the film and that that’s the case with “The Guardian”, a by the books “father-son” relationship film that’s average at best. Although they use the Coast Guard as a change of pace from the usually cop-rookie scenario, the highlights of a rescue mission doesn’t make this film stand out the other films with similar themes.

Kevin Costner plays Ben Randall, the best Coast Guard rescue swimmer who doesn’t know when the end of his water mission is near until a incident kills his entire rescue squad and he’s the only one left alive. Not only that, but his wife (Ward) has had enough with his missions, and elects to leave him. When his commanding officer leaves him no choice to head the latest recruiting of new swimmers, Randall reluctantly accepts. It’s there where he butts heads with Jake Fischer, the young lad who hopes to wipe out all of Ben’s swimming records. Along the way, we see the normal training regiment the recruits go through, including the one guy we can expect not the make the team. Sooner or later, Ben and Jake will have the confrontation we expect to see and then realize that they are more alike than they thought.

Aside from some good cinematic water rescue scenes, everything else seems remote. It’s nice to see Costner on screen as a lead after supporting turns in “Rumor Has It” and “The Upside of Anger”, where he was actually very charming in both films. Here’s he asked to be the old guard not ready to give up his post when his time is up and we’ve seen this one too many times. Plenty of clichéd scenarios are played out throughout the film that you wonder where, if any, originality came into play. Kutcher is adequate with his performance. Outside of off-screen persona, Kutcher shows some range as actor that may get him better scripts in the future. Just using military films from “An Officer and a Gentleman”, ‘Top Gun” and most recently, “Annapolis”, the stories are basically the same, and “The Guardian” offers nothing new to the genre. Director Davis has done Coast Guard some good by giving them some attention in a film. He just should have found another story to focus on beside the typical buddy flick.