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on January 20, 2007
Despite mediocre reviews and having struggled through An Officer and a Gentleman and Top Gun I decided to watch The Guardian with every expectation that I would not make it through the movie... I am glad that I went, one of the best movies I've seen in awhile. It's easy to find fault in any movie and The Guardian is no exception; the rescue scenes are bigger than life which should be expected in a military/disaster movie; but the overconfident and somewhat arrogant trainee (Ashton Kutcher) is believable at his age, and Kevin Costner was at his best since the late 80's (The Untouchables & No Way Out). Despite my surprise when learning that my college age children watched The Guardian, I was even more astonished that they discussed aspects of this movie - Service, sacrifice, relationships, and perseverance. In an office where I very rarely see 7 thumbs up; The Guardian got the grade.
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on January 25, 2007
First, as a movie watcher who rarely likes what hits the screen these days, I truly enjoyed this film. True, it would have been better 15 minutes shorter, but it wasn't so long as to really bother me. I think the love interest for Kutcher was unneccessary. But the movie held my attention and interest and I left the theater thinking, "Man, that was good."

Now, as one of the lucky people that have one of those cool Coast Guard jobs, (a fact that does create some bias) I was suprised by just how close to reality the action stayed. There were plenty of "hollywood" moments, but many of them were necessary. I wont bother to explain them all, but the operations center of most air stations is a desk with a couple of phones. There are video monitors in some of them, but they play movies and football live video feeds from the scene...sorry.

The rescue scenes are very realistic, and the school scenes are not too out-of-line with the actual training. (warning: punch an instructor in the face during an in water test and he will NOT hug you later. Get thrown in jail for being drunk and disorderly and you WILL get kicked out) The story didn't show the sometimes months of boredom between rescues or the excitement of a six hour flare sighting search called in by a drunk on the fourth of july from a hotel room...but who would pay to see that?

All in all, I think many of us in the service are proud of the film and liked it very much.

The extras on the DVD are worth the price alone. Again, I'm biased.
The Guardian is a film worth owning.
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Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is a rarity in the Coast Guard. Even though he's over 40, he's still in the field serving as a rescue swimmer. Whenever the sea near his base in Kodiak, Alaska gets rough, he's the one who jumps out of the helicopter and rescues those who have fallen overboard. And he's one of the best at what he does, with an impressive record or saves against overwhelming odds.

He's hit a rough patch, however. His wife (Sela Ward) has left him and his entire crew was killed in an accident while they were trying to rescue the survivor of a shipwreck. In a move to help him recover emotionally, he's temporarily reassigned to "A" School, where the Coast Guard trains rescue swimmers.

And that's why Ben is on hand when Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) enters the program. He's a high school swimming star who has turned down Ivy League scholarships to become a rescue swimmer. On the first day, he brags that he will beat all of Randall's old records.

Obviously, Jake has a problem with arrogance. Ben doesn't give him a break but spends all his time picking on his star student. Will Jake stand up to the pressure?

Given the previews and the plot of this movie, I'm sure it will surprise very few people when I describe it as formulaic. There were a couple surprises along the way, but for the most part, things unfolded exactly as I expected then to.

So, for a movie like this to succeed, it must rely on characters and actors. Here, the movie hits a home run. Both Ben and Jake are deeply flawed men who are struggling to maintain or regain their pride. Even Jake, who comes across as arrogant much of the time, has a truly compassionate side that surfaces as well. And Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher are excellent in their rolls. They balance the emotional and comedic scenes expertly. The movie focuses on these two characters, and the rest of them are underdeveloped as a result, but that's a minor complaint.

The movie is over two hours, but I was engrossed the entire time. The beginning and climax features some truly angry seas, and those special effects were awesome.

Even though the plot isn't the most original out there, the movie is still very entertaining and well worth seeing. I was moved and am very glad I saw it.
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on May 28, 2007
Good to see Kevin Costner back in a hero role. I liked this movie a lot, with the exception of the "supernatural" part of the ending, which I thought was a bit strange, considering the rest of the movie was a straight-forward look at the life of rescue swimmers in the Coast Guard.

To those people who say that this film is predictable and formulaic, what else would you do with it? Do you want aliens to invade or have them fighting a sea monster, what?? The Coast Guard was with them every step of the way in making this film and making it sure it was authentic. There were several actual CG guys in the film. It's a military film, folks, meant to depict what these men and women go through every day, and I think it does that better than any other film of its type. They didn't go into Delta Force territory and try to make their male characters one-dimensional macho cardboard cutouts. They spend a lot of this movie showing the emotional toll this takes not only on the CG personnel themselves but on their relationships. Thank goodness for that! I was also happy, as a 50-ish woman, to see Costner paired with Sela Ward instead of a 20-something young thing (despite the fact he's married to one in real life, I guess!) and I could sympathize with the depiction of his character's sadness at seeing his physical body unable to do what it could do at 19.

If you want Shakespeare go watch a different movie. If you want something unpredictable go watch Memento or The Prestige. But if you want to see a movie that faithfully depicts what it takes to be one of the heroes of the Coast Guard, then see this film. And make sure to check out the special features.
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VINE VOICEon February 7, 2007
We all know Full Metal Jacket...Kubrick's classic, brutal depiction of Marines going to war in Vietnam from boot camp to battle. The Guardian is Andrew Davis' (1993's The Fugitive) much lighter look at what recruits in the Coast Guard who apply to be Rescue Swimmers might go through while attempting to pass the Rescue Swimmer test.

It's also the story of an instructor (Kevin Costner) that was the best Rescue Swimmer in the business, but reluctantly accepted a teaching job at the Coast Guard Academy.

The movie is way more training than I'd have preferred. But there's a good story. There's suspense. And importantly it's fairly believable. The Guardian kind of falls apart towards the end with a sadly predictable ending.

One thing that The Guardian does for sure is show you that the Coast Guard is highly underrated. A memorable quote from the movie that puts it in perspective: "When hurricanes ground the United States Navy, we go out." Make no mistake that when I suggested earlier that this film is lighter than Kubrick's I did not mean to suggest that Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers are any less brave or tough as Marines. You may also walk away from The Guardian with the same notion.

My issue with the film is that there wasn't a lot of 'going out' unless you apply the little phrase to Jake (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily's (Melissa Sagemiller) dating. There was a little too much love story. Not enough buddy-film. And mostly training camp. I think a more action-oriented movie might have generated another star.

But overall The Guardian was an enjoyable movie.

SpongeBob Squarepants' Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) even makes an appearance in this tale of The Sea. And a funny bit of trivia is that Clancy is most known for (no, not the voice of Mr. Krabs) his role as Captain Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, and Captain Hadley is indeed his name again in The Guardian.
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on December 29, 2006
As a retired Coast Guardsman, I watched the movie with great anticipation-hoping that they would "get it right" and night just have another hollywood production. After experiencing 30 years of service and seeing a lot of what is portrayed in the movie, I believe they have. Even though others may not think the the intertwined love story is necessary, I believe that it adds a sense of realism and personal sacrifice to the storyline. These are situations that are faced not only by rescue swimmers, who may have the most physically challenging job in the Guard, but by every person in the Coast Guard who has every had to go out in rough seas, board boats, coduct rescues at sea, do drug interdiction or a myriad of other taskings in less than ideal conditions. The movie does an excellent job exposing those who are are unaware to one aspect of the Coast Guard mission. I hope it makes them that much more aware of the sacrifice freely given on a daily basis in the saving of lives and property, the safeguarding of US freedoms and interests, and the effect it has on the personnel involved.
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VINE VOICEon January 11, 2007
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much of this movie. Afterall, it had Ashton Kutcher, from Punk'd! But, it was a superbly well put together movie. Ashton, was paired with the older and better Kevin Costner, and the two of them did a tremendous job throughout the movie. Sure, there's the usual formulaic method of pairing the young athletic guy with the washed up gruff officer, but Kutcher and Costner surprised me.

The 137 minutes went by quite quickly, and it didn't feel slow at all. The rescue swimmer training was definitely an eye opener (nice to see Neal McDonough pop up as a trainer there!). It gave me a newfound sense of respect for our brave men and women in the USCG, and it didn't do it in any overtly brash way either.

"That others may live" is embodied especially at the end (I won't spoil the ending), and it was quite a heart rendering moment. 2 thumbs way up for a tastefully done film about the coast guard.

And I agree with the guy below- whoever designed the DVD jacket cover should be taken to the back cellar and flogged.
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on January 8, 2007
I was very anxious about this film as my son is a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer and was one of the Technical Advisor's for the film. I am proud that the movie really did reflect the type of training these men go through and although the situations in the movie had a dramatic flair, I know first hand how difficult this elite group or men and women jobs are and how dedicated they are to the mission of saving lives. Obviously this was demonstrated during Katrina in New Orleans! This is a great movie that deserves all the credit afforded it and will be a fine addition to anyone's DVD collection. Kudo's to the cast and crew who did an outstanding job of portraying this unit of the Coast Guard.
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on January 30, 2007
The Guardian is a tribute to a unique breed of individuals who do what few can or are willing to do. Think of how the job description of a Coast Guard might look: You must be on call at all times and willing to go out in the open ocean during violent terrible weather that even United States Military would not venture into. In addition, you must be willing to sacrifice yourself for complete strangers which may include your drowning or freezing to death.

These men, the members of our coast guard, are what I call quiet unsung heroes as their risks and sacrifices often go unnoticed, unlike our police and firemen who are just as heroic, but often get the recognition they deserve. This film gives the coast guard the recognition they so rightly deserve. Hollywood makes movies to make money, but it's nice when they also pay respect to people and causes in that drive to make a profit. I think of films like World Trade Center, The Towering Inferno, Volcano, Flags of our Fathers, Platoon, Stand and Deliver, and Mr. Holland's Opus where Hollywood appropriately pays tribute to our police, firemen, emergency personnel of all types, soldiers, and educators who all contribute so much to our society in such an unselfish manner. Films like The Guardian give an appropriate "thank you" to such individuals.

As far as the movie specifically goes, I completely enjoyed this film although it is a bit overly long and a bit predictable, hence my 4 stars and not 5. Kevin Costner has matured wonderfully as an actor. His boyish charm has given way to something of a world-weary traveler and it suits him. Ashton Kutcher plays the role of the young arrogant upstart that would have been played by Tom Cruise in his more youthful days. Kutcher proves he's got acting chops and is an acting force to be reckoned with. He, like Costner, is maturing nicely. Sela Ward, forever typecast as the neglected spouse, offers solid and sensitive support as do all the other familiar supporting actors that you will recognize from other countless films.

The writing is overall believable except near the end where it gets predictable and a bit overly sentimental, but enjoyable nevertheless. This film could use some editing. One gets the feeling that the director just loved every shot and sequence and couldn't bring himself to edit this nearly 2 1/2 hour film down to a more appropriate 2 hours.

Regardless of my few criticisms of this film, this is a must see and, perhaps, a must own DVD. I took my kids to see this just so they could appreciate the heroic efforts so many people do for complete strangers. At 10 and 14 they both left the theaters in tears as they were so moved by this story. To me, that speaks more than any other words I could write here.

God Bless the rescuers that surround us!
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on January 14, 2007
I truly enjoyed the movie, I thought it was going to be schmaltzy and cheesy I was plesantly surprised it was actually good and true to life.

This is a two hankie movie,it has humor,action and a touch of romance packed with angst it is definately worth seeing again.

My husband is a career Coastie and is currently deployed to the Bering Sea. He said the movie is very true to life and since he has been to the Bering Sea before said those scenes are very real that is how the waves,weather and lousy conditions are.

After seeing the footage of the Bering Sea and how the Alex Haley was tossed around like a bob cork I was scared for my husband,knowing he would be there the worst time of the year December to March.

The acting was true to life and the scenerios from the rescues to how much of a scrafice families of these brave men make.

I had respect for my husband and all Coasties,I knew the job was hard and dangerous after seeing this movie I have a renewed respect for all Coasties especially the ones Stationed in Alaska and who are deployed to that area of the world.
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