Davis, 2006, US, 136 mins
Cast: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Melissa Sagemiller, John
Heard, Sela Ward
Review by Sian Thatcher
paper battles conservative society in this…Sorry, if you
were hoping for a film about the liberal newspaper, you’re
not going to find it here. The Guardian in this case is ‘the
guardian of the seas’ – a romanticised look
at the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers who risk their lives “so
that others may live”.
Costner plays Ben Randall, a veteran swimmer who is going
through a divorce and in a tragic accident ends up losing
his entire crew at sea. He is then sent to a training camp
for a few months to sort himself out.
Here he meets cocky newcomer Jake
Fischer (Kutcher) and recognises his potential immediately,
but knows he needs to combine the recruit’s raw talent with the dedication
and responsibility necessary to “be the best”.
The film fuses elements of Top Gun and An Officer and
a Gentleman with documentary footage of coastguards training,
culminating in a decent film that ultimately lacks dramatic
As a vehicle to show off the swimmers, the training schedule,
the tough life, it does well, but there are too many training
sequences and while they are interesting, there are only
so many times you can watch someone do a press-up or swim
a length of the pool.
The film assumes you want to know
the exactitudes of the training programme, and doesn’t seem to realise that
a montage sequence is used to create pace and speed things
up and after long, tedious montages, you feel you’re
ready to graduate as a coast guard swimmer yourself.
However, the rescue scenes are incredible – the
director’s skills clearly lie in filming dramatic,
gritty action sequences. When on dry land, however, things
aren’t plain sailing – Fischer’s fling
with Emily (Sagemiller) seems like an afterthought. The
film also only dips in and out of Randall’s relationship
with his wife Helen (Ward), which is a shame as these offer
some of the better dramatic scenes.
The ending is also rather odd -
there are a lot of false starts, then they seem to settle
on a wave of clichés
both Hollywood and seafaring. You can almost feel the battle
between the director and the studio; realistic ending and
leave it on a sad note or wistful, cliché-ridden
ending full of hope and legend. You know which won out.
Costner, known for his overly long
films, is perfect as Randall, playing him with a certain
gravity and sensitivity. Kutcher, perennially slated
by critics, is good as Fischer – he
portrays his determination well.
As a film about coast guards, it is successful, but as
a Hollywood action film, you would expect more dramatic
tension. In short, the coastguards are the stars of this
film, the relationship between Randall and Fischer a bit
of a wet fish.
The film is enjoyable, but could be so much better with
a few tweaks of the script and a floor full of cuttings.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment have announced the
UK Region 2 DVD release of The Guardian for 19th
- Audio Commentary By The Filmmakers – with
Director Andrew Davis and Writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff
- Making Waves - The Making Of The Guardian
- Unsung Heroes – A tribute
to the real life USCG heroes who literally jump into
life threatening situations every day
- Alternate Ending – with
on Camera Introduction by Andrew Davis
- Deleted Scenes – By Director
Andrew Davis and Writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff