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The Guard

Martin McDonagh creased me up with laughter with the Irish classic In Bruges, especially the dwarf scenes involving the underrated Colin Farrell. But sibling John Michael hasn't managed to quite hit those heights with a watchable, but patchy, effort also starring Brendan Gleeson in a crime caper.

That said, the good thing is that any project with Gleeson in it is worth a rental for his name alone.

Here he stars as bored Garda Sergeant Gerry Boyle, holed up in an area of Connemara where nothing much happens by way of crime.

Days are spent alternately visiting his cancer-stricken ma (Fionnula Flanagan), picking up hookers and taking the mick out of others in a bid to relieve the boredom.

But things are going to change with the arrival of straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), who has to team up with Boyle to intercept a major drugs delivery organised by gangster Sheehy (the ever dependable Liam Cunningham) and his philosophy-quoting sidekick Clive Cornell (Mark Strong).

What results is your typical good cop/ mad cop farce -- outwardly Boyle is racist, but he has got that typically Irish way of winding people up to see how they react, and if he really likes them.

It's well-observed stuff between the leads, from Boyle asking Everett if he's "from the hood" (he's actually a straight-laced Ivy League graduate), to a growing respect between this odd couple. You've seen it all before -- with Rush Hour and Bad Boys -- but there's more intelligence at play here.

There's a bit of action, too, including a speeding car opening and climactic shootout -- but it's not about that. It's about the dialogue and with the likes of Gleeson and Cunningham on board, you're on to a winner.

The only disappointment is that with all this talent behind, and in front of, the camera, it could have been so much better.

DVD EXTRAS: Director's commentary, with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle; behind the scenes featurette; deleted and extended scenes; out-takes; short film.