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  Publicity Stills of "The Guardian"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Drama/Action
Director: Andrew Davis
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Neal McDonough, Clancy Brown, Melissa Sagemiller, Brian Geraghty and Sela Ward
RunTime: 2 hrs 16 mins
Released By: BVI
Rating: PG
Trailer: Quicktime

Opening Day: 26 October 2006

Synopsis :

After losing his crew in a fatal crash, legendary Rescue Swimmer, Ben Randall (KEVIN COSTNER), is sent to teach at “A” School, an elite training program for Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. Wrestling with the loss of his crew members, he throws himself into teaching, turning the program upside down with his unorthodox training methods.

While there, he encounters a young, cocky swim champ, Jake Fischer (ASHTON KUTCHER), who is driven to be the best. During training, Randall helps mold Jake’s character, combining his raw talent with the heart and dedication required of a Rescue Swimmer.

Upon graduation, Jake follows Randall to Kodiak, Alaska, where they face the inherent dangers of the Bering Sea. In his initial solo rescue, Jake learns firsthand from Randall, the true meaning of heroism and sacrifice, echoing the Swimmer’s motto...”So Others May Live!”

Movie Review:

If this movie was shown in the cinemas 10 years ago, it’d probably “The Movie” everyone wanted to see, and become an instant box office hit. It has all the ingredients of a sure-win popcorn flick.

The leading man is Kevin Costner, who spelt s-u-c-c-e-s-s in whatever flicks he starred in. After all, before he sunk in Waterworld (1995), he was the man who Dances With Wolves (1990), robbed the rich to save the poor as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and protected a diva as The Bodyguard (1992).

Then there is the extravaganza of special effects in this movie. Angry ocean waves, overturning ships, people in peril and impressive helicopter stunts are all vividly brought onto the big screen. This is really a big deal - 10 years ago, that is.

The inspiring story of bringing out the best in human spirit is also a potential heartstring-puller that will pull in brave male audiences and their hopeful girlfriends. Costner plays a legendary Coast Guard who cannot get over the death of a teammate in an accident. He is then transferred to a training school where he meets Ashton Kutcher, who plays a high-flying student who seems to be hiding a dark secret.

Two proud men. Two big egos. One very formulaic plot.

The straightforward narrative of the movie is so predictable; you’d want to give yourself a pat on the back every time you guess what is going to happen next correctly. Not that this is a bad thing though, because the 136-minute does move at a sturdy pace.

After an impressive setup, the movie conveniently shifts itself into the usual scenes where rookie students are trained, met with embarrassing moments and triumphing over hardship at the end of the day. Then comes the conflict between the two male leads, followed by expected events that will draw the movie to a conclusion.

By then, two odd hours have passed and you know very well that the overlong flick could have made do with at least half an hour of runtime.

Thankfully, the fine performances of the leading men will have audiences watching on, and on, and on. Costner gives his character a good balance of security and vulnerability. Women will feel for him, and men would want to be him. Kutcher plays his role with certain cheekiness and smug that personifies, well, maybe his own character in real life.

What about the female leads? Well, what do you know; they are not that important – again.

Director Andrew Davis, who has helmed other action flicks like The Fugitive (1993) and Collateral Damage (2002), still does a decent job with his latest work. It is just that, every aspect of it is formulaic and standard, like those successful disaster movies in the 1990s.

And when you realize that the end title song “Never Let Go” is sung by Bryan Adams (yes, the man who gave you 1991’s Everything I Do, I Do It For You and 1993’s All For Love), you know for sure that the filmmakers are really all out to make this flick feel like a 1990s big-budget popcorn movie.

Movie Rating:

(A lengthy hero movie that is decent but formulaic, this Kevin Costner flick may just sink with today’s audience)

Review by John Li


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