Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Guardian with Costner and Kutcher

Did you like Top Gun and Officer and a Gentleman? Then watch them and forget about Guardian.

The heroes of the Coast Guard deserve a better movie than a ham-handed retread of other, better movies. It had neither the charm of Top Gun nor the emotion of OaaG. The director took risks with the action sequences, but none with the story or characters. Sad, sad, sad.

What it did have was Kevin Costner; always a good choice for a swimmer because wooden actors float. Ashton Kutcher was surprisingly good, but his back story was unbelievable given his character - earnest, gung-ho, desperate; sure - too cool for school; no. Clancy Brown was a supporting actor who was ignored by a poor director (too bad, because he has the acting chops to take over the movie).

I honestly have no problem with formula movies - which this was. Formula is about structure, which movies are all about. The goal, though, is to hide the rigging. Craft performance and story to find fresh angles and hidden depths of the formula. Guardian didn't do any of that. It was liking watching Superman fly with the cables and green screen if full view.

The end -- which normally I wouldn't spoil, but it's already spoiled so why not? -- made me get up and walk out. Costner hanging by the fingertips of Kutcher heroically and woodenly let's go to fall to his death where he could be a ham-handed legend introduced at the beginning of the show. Maybe a better actor (like say, Gary Coleman) could have sold this moment, but Costner can't sell socks on a cold day. One-note-Kevin displays the same emotion whether he's getting divorced, getting in a bar fight, or committing suicide. He's supposed to be tragic and inhumanly noble - instead he's the wooden Indian handing out wooden nickels. (He really has to understand that the only roles he can play well are the goofballs with understated charm like in Field of Dreams or Bodyguard, or where he's playing a corpse like in The Big Chill.)

The extras on the DVD are great, though. Learn about the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers and their amazing work during Hurricane Katrina. These guys and gals are unsung heroes who deserve a lot more respect than they get. Unfortunately, this dog of a movie wasn't it.

Bottom Line: C-