The U.S. Coast Guard rescue-swimmers at the center of The Guardian may be able to save you from a raging current or a hurricane swell, but even they can’t help succumbing to the movie’s torrent of watery clichés: an over-the-hill vet (Kevin Costner) haunted by a deadly mishap, his cocky but immature protégé (Ashton Kutcher), the inevitable clash between old school and new. And that’s just the first 20 minutes! Directed by Andrew Davis ( The Fugitive), the movie is scaled as an epic, but plays like a 1940s pro-military quickie decked out with more padding than a Berber carpet. And while Davis remains an adept handler of action scenes, his evident fatigue with the material is the sort of thing that can make a movie sink faster than muscle in the pool. There are momentary pleasures here, chiefly Costner, who’s aged very nicely into playing former golden boys. But at nearly two and a half hours, The Guardian is neither serious enough to take seriously nor flashy enough to get by on thrills alone. Jerry Bruckheimer, where art thou?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 19, 2006