Plot: What’s it about?
Believe it or not, it happens to even the biggest of Hollywood stars. They age. I know, I know…who’d have thought it, right? Kevin Costner was one of the biggest marquee names in the late 80’s and 90’s but we haven’t seen him around much anymore. Did he do something wrong? Was he involved in some scandal? Or did he simply just start to actually age and wasn’t in demand anymore? For every Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner or Mel Gibson there’s a Ben Affleck, Matt Damon or Jude Law that’s there to take their place (in Hollywood). I’m sure the day will come when even Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are simply no longer in demand. All that aside, Costner isn’t dead – just not in as many movies as he once was. I’ve never thought Costner was the greatest actor out there, but he’s got a knack for playing his roles very low key. This can be good, such as in “Tin Cup” or bad like in “The Bodyguard”. “The Guardian” is a full out action movie about Coast Guard rescue swimmers – so does Costner still have it or not?
Costner plays Ben Randall, an aging Coast Guard rescue swimmer who has just recently lost his partner in a freak accident. His life is in chaos and his wife (Sela Ward) has just left him. Ben’s offered a chance to teach at the Coast Guard academy as opposed to resign and he reluctantly accepts the offer. The class is full of cocky, arrogant wannabees and it’s Ben’s job to sort out the weak from the strong as only the best can be deemed a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Naturally we see some personalities emerge and it’s Jake Fischer (Ashton Kucher) that catches Ben’s eye. He’s a strong swimmer who breaks every one of Ben’s records but has a checkered past. Add to this the fact that he’s seeing a local teacher (Melissa Sagemiler) who nearly gets him kicked out of the program and we’re not sure if it’s meant to be. Will Ben kick Jake out of the program or will they both see the light and live happily ever after?
Ok, ok…so the plot has been done before. If you’ve seen “Top Gun” or “An Officer and a Gentlemen” this is basically a merge of the two with different characters. Costner essentially plays Louis Gosset’s role from “…Officer” and the romance with the “local girl” is stolen from both as well. The director, Andrew Davis, has brought us such great films as “Under Siege” and “The Fugitive” (others as well, but I felt that those two were the only ones worth mentioning) so suffice it to say, the guy knows how to make a good action movie. Ultimately “The Guardian” is a good movie albeit about 30 minutes too long. There’s substantial plot (and then some) but I felt that the more action the better. All that aside, I rather enjoyed the movie and it gives us a glimpse of some of the true unsung heroes of the world.
Video: How does it look?
“The Guardian” is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that looks pretty darn good. As expected, there are plenty of shots underwater and indoors that give the movie a very unique look. On occasion, there are some different stocks of footage used (in a montage scene) but on the whole colors are bright and vivid and I saw no problem with edge enhancement. Contrast is very impressive and black levels are right on target. For a new to DVD movie, this one delivers and viewers won’t be disappointed.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack more than gets the job done and though it’s not the most robust track out there, I was more than pleased at the ending scene. Waves crashing, splashes underwater and even a few fight scenes all make for a decent-sounding track. Dialogue is warm and natural and though the ambiance isn’t as strong as I’d like, I wasn’t let down in the least.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“The Guardian” comes with a bevy of supplements, though they’re not as groundbreaking as one might think. We start off with an audio commentary by director Andrew Davis and writer Ron Brinkerhoff who deliver a very straight-forward track giving us plenty of information about the shoot and the position of rescue swimmer. The two have a lot to say about their two year involvement with the film and if you’re so inclined, then this is a fairly decent track to listen to. A trio of deleted scenes are included and are available with or without audio commentary. An alternate ending is also included with an introduction by Davis. The obligatory making of featurette is entitled “Making Waves – The Making of The Guardian” in which we see just what we’d expect: interviews with the cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage. More interesting still is “Unsung Heroes” in which some real-life rescue swimmers are interviewed about their profession and they recount some old stories. Though at only 5 minutes, I’d have liked to see a bit more. And that’s it. “The Guardian” isn’t a great movie, but it’s good and a decent action movie. It’s a bit long and the plot has been done several times before.