When I think of all of the armed forces that help keep us safe, the Coast Guard is the last one that comes to mind. It's not like we ever hear of Coast Guard reservists getting called up to go to Iraq. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a movie about that branch of service wasn't real high on my list to see. "The Guardian" came on Starz tonight and nothing else was on so it caught a break.
Cocky high school swim champion Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) enrolls in the Coast Guard's "A" school to become a rescue swimmer. He runs into Senior Chief Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) who's a proven legend in the field and haunted by the tragic loss of his own crew. "The Guardian" follows the conflict these two individuals encounter as they learn to tap into their own individual strenths and deficiencies while learning from one another.
Did they really have to be as obvious as to name Kutcher's character Fischer? That almost ran the risk of being a first strike with me. Lucky for them that the opening scene where Randall experiences his deadly lost was enough for me to look past the name pun.
Something about movies that focus on basic training constantly fascinate me. I don't think the fact that I was in the military has much bearing on it. It's just interesting to see the behind-the-scenes actions of how the different branches of the service train to become the nation's protectors. In "The Guardian" they do an excellent job at certain points giving us grainy footage so it gives the impression we're witnessing actual training footage.
There's one downside to those type of movies. They run the risk of halving the flick. The first part where it focuses on the training is intense, action-packed and interesting. Then the hard part begins. Will the movie become corny and overwrought with some nonsense mission? "G.I. Jane" did. Will the flick sustain throughout from beginning to end striking a good balance? "An Officer and a Gentleman" did. So does "The Guardian" sink or swim?
It turned out it treads water fairly well. Ashton once again proves that when he applies himself, he can be a quality dramatic actor. Just when I thought that Kevin Costner didn't have any decent movies left in him, he also steps up to the plate. Although it was rather obvious that he would somehow wind up a martyr.
I wasn't too fond of them trying to incorporate a little "Officer and a Gentleman" theme near the end with the romantic backstory. The romance could have been left out altogether and this would have been a much better film. That subplot was insignificant enough to not adversely affect "The Guardian" too much, yet just enough to keep it just treading water.
My rating: C+