Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher are an inspired screen pairing. A well told story about the Coast Guard.
A tad slow at times.
Kevin Costner stars in this film as Ben Randall, a man with a past who is given the job of training a new batch of Coast Guard recruits. Among these men is a hot shot named Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) who has a big mouth, but he's also able to back it up by being a terrific swimmer. These two are at odds from the word go and it's only when they come to realize they have a lot in common, that we see the growth and maturity of both of their characters. We see these two in their personal lives when they aren't around one another, but the end of the film climaxes with Fischer in a tight spot on a boat and Randall coming in to once again save the day.
All in all The Guardian is an extremely well told tale. The majority of it's action comes from the standoffs between Kutcher and Costner. There is a decent amount of action on the water, but I was very impressed by the scale of the character development employed in this movie. While there isn't anything overly original about this film, it really sheds light on just how dangerous the Coast Guard can be.
While I am not going to give away the different ending of this film, I will say that I am impressed that the studio didn't force these guys to use this ending. This is a Hollywood movie afterall. It's got big stars, a hefty budget, and a top notch director. Yet, throughout all that, the executives realized the kind of movie they were making, and ultimately I don't think the character portions would have resonated so much if they had kept this ending in.
There are four of these and they contain a commentary track with Director Andrew Davis and the films screenwriter Ron L. Brinkerhoff. Presented in full screen they have titles like "Jake Visits Emily at School" and "Randall and Skinner Square Off." I didn't listen to the commentary track provided here, but after going through these I could see why they were taken out. Quite honestly, there really wasn't anything happening in these scenes that I felt helped the characters. As I have stated previously, this is one of those rare films where the majority of all the actor's performances made it on to the big screen.
The Guardian - Making Waves
In this "making of" we get to see first hand how the water scenes were pulled off. One of the more interesting moments was seeing a wave tank with a blue screen all around it. At that moment it hit me just how well done the effects in this film are. Everything looks so big and real and when juxtaposed with raw footage of the wave tank it makes all that we are shown seem that much more amazing. In addition to this we hear from the director, Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, and sadly it seems like Kutcher offers little more than canned responses. Ultimately, this featurette comes down to all the parties talking about why they wanted to make this film. The reason? To show the brave work of the Coast Guard.
Andrew Davis and Ron L. Brinkerhoff again provide us with insights into this movie. They begin by telling us how Brinkerhoff is the only writer on this movie (which from what I gather in Hollywood is very rare), they talk about how they worked together on this film, how certain conditions were recreated for this movie, and then Davis discusses the lighting schemes in the film's various acts. All in all, I found this commentary track to be a tad more cerebral than I like, but Davis really seems to serve the emotional core of the story so I guess he can be forgiven. Fans of the director will certainly want to check this out.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1. Aside from some moments when they used post production slow motion (meaning it wasn't done to the film inside the camera itself), I think this movie looked very good. Overall, the scope and style is very big and that is something that Andrew Davis is known for in his other films. He is quite adept at putting action across on screen, but not cutting it so that it gets in the way of what the viewers are seeing. On DVD, this movie looked like it had been solidly compressed and I think it will continue to get better as it moves to the HD or Blu-ray formats.
English Dolby Digital 5.1. French Dolby Digital 2.0. Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0. The audio on this DVD was solid. The sound system on my TV doesn't sound as good I would want it to, but I was still able to get the impact of this movie. What really comes off well are the water scenes. Seeing these guys move around in these extreme conditions, the audio underlines their situation without taking it over.
Sadly, the powers that be at Buena Vista Home Entertainment wanted me to screen this movie before I interviewed the director, so they didn't send me a copy of the DVD with proper packaging. I could complain about this but I think you would be better off to click here and read my interview with the film's director.
This was one of those movies that I didn't see in the theater yet somehow knew that I would send up watching on DVD. As I mentioned above, I was very impressed by the amount of character development that director Andrew Davis employed. I think people going to this film expecting to see a straight up, slam bang action film might be disappointed. That just isn't what this movie is. In fact, there were a few times when I was watching the film, and I was actually surprised that Davis let these scenes linger as long as he did. Afterall, I don't think he's going for an Academy Award, but both Kutcher and Costner are given ample time to show their acting chops.
If you are a fan of these actors or you love military procedural movies, I think you will be in good hands with The Guardian.
The Guardian was released September 28, 2006.