When I spoke with Andy Davis about two months ago, I have to admit, I was not that excited to see his new action film, The Guardian. That was until I started seeing more and more trailers, and more and more press on the film; it was then that I actually got excited about it. The Guardian stars Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner as Coast Guard rescue swimmers - the most elite team in Kodiak, Alaska.
The motto of the Coast Guard - "So others may live" - and that's exactly the energy Kevin puts into this role. He embodies what these guys go through. The Guardian begins with a bang - in the middle of the Bering Sea, a couple is stranded and needs help.
Here comes Kevin and his team in the helicopter; the rumble from the vibration can be felt in the theater during the entire rescue. During the scene, I realized how much training he went through to prepare for the movie. Already, five minutes in - I'm pumped.
But, his next time out proves to be the key to starting his life over. His hard-nosed attitude turns fatal for his partner, so Kevin is taken off the rescue squad and sent to the 'A School.' He's forced into teaching a new class of rescue swimmers, with one request - he runs the class his way, his rules, no questions asked.
Who's the star of that class - Ashton. You see him on the bus heading into the barracks, sunglasses on, toothpick in his mouth - the ultimate of cocky. But this is the military, and you know there's no room for cockiness in the Coast Guard.
And this is what makes The Guardian different from all these other 'I'm the star of the class and I'm going to do my own thing' movies. Ashton's character of Jake Fischer is as serious about graduating A School as everyone else there. He was a top swimmer in high school, had won every speed record there was; he was a stud. Of course, Ashton can't keep Jake's humbleness to himself; in the opening meeting, Jake opens his mouth and remarks about some of Kevin's old records. That's where the rivalry begins between the two. From then on, Kevin makes Ashton's time at the school a living hell - but again, they're both up for the challenge.
Another character in the film making a splash is Charlie Hodge, played by Brian Geraghty. The guy is in his third stint at A School; he's been dismissed two times before because he freezes under pressure. And Ashton steps in and becomes Hodge's mentor and biggest supporter. If you're not rooting for Ashton's character to succeed, you're certainly pulling for Hodge.
In one scene, Jake and Hodge take a trip to the local Navy bar - not the safest place for a couple of drunk Coast Guard officers. If you don't know, the Navy and Coast Guard aren't the best of friends. And wouldn't you know it, the two start a bar fight and get thrown in jail.
Once they get back to base, Ashton's acting really comes out; not giving away anything, Jake realizes he and Ben aren't as different as he thought they were. That's also when Ben realizes Jake is serious about taking the class and graduating. Through his journey, Ben finds out he's a rescue swimmer, and he'll always be a rescue swimmer.
One thing I really appreciated about The Guardian was the lack of a love story sub-plot that became the real plot. Of course, a movie with military guys is going to have women, but director Andy Davis chose not to focus too heavily on that. Melissa Sagemiller is a school teacher in the small town, and becomes Ashton's love interest; Sela Ward plays Kevin's wife. In a weird coincidence, Sela was the wife of Harrison Ford in another Andy Davis-directed film, The Fugitive.
The Guardian has action, suspense, laughs, scares, and some great music! This is a film that's rated PG-13, but feels like an R; it's going to surprise you, cause it surprised me. The rescue scenes are incredible - all of them! And there's something different about all of the rescues. It's also a movie that should be seen in the theaters; there's just a little more excitement when you're with 500 of your closest friends and in the middle of amazing surround sound audio.
The Guardian also stars Neal McDonough, Dule Hill, Clancy Brown, and jazz and blues singer Bonnie Bramlett.