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Page # 516

The Guardian
Director: Andrew Davis
Screenplay: Ron L. Brinkerhoff
Producer: Armyan Bernstein, Beau Flynn, Charlie Lyons, Lowell D. Blank, Peter Macgregor-Scott, Tripp Vinson
Cast: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Sela Ward, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown
Genre: Action & Adventure

Running Time: 139
Aspect Ratio:  1.85:1 (NTSC Widescreen)
Sound: AC-3
Subtitles: Spanish, French
Studio:  Buena Vista Home Entertainment / Touchstone DVD Region:  1 PG-13
DVD Release:  Jan 2007 Discs:  1 (Cloud) [$14.99]
Reviews:  "The Guardian" offers satisfying entertainment with a no-nonsense combination of Hollywood formula and good old-fashioned star power. While honoring the men and women who serve as rescue swimmers for the U.S. Coast Guard, this predictable yet appealing drama is a well-crafted showcase for Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, who bring welcome depth and dimension to their formulaic roles. It's basically "Top Gun" for the Coast Guard, with Costner playing a legendary rescuer haunted by recent tragedy and the impending break-up of his marriage, and Kutcher as the hot-shot recruit whose bravado is tested when Costner takes over a grueling 18-week basic training course, where a 50% attrition rate ensures that only the best will make the grade. There's nothing particularly inventive about Ron L. Brinkerhoff's screenplay, but it's intelligently written and well-directed (by "The Fugitive" helmer Andrew Davis) as it shows how seasoned veteran and troubled but talented trainee build mutual respect while sorting through the trauma of accidents that left each of them as sole survivors, tormented by self-doubt and guilt.
Bolstered by a strong supporting cast including Neal McDonough, John Heard, Sela Ward and Clancy Brown, "The Guardian" is a bit on the long side (137 minutes), but it never feels slow, and a romantic subplot (with Kutcher wooing a schoolteacher played by Melissa Sagemiller) blends nicely with thrilling ocean-rescue sequences incorporating a seamless blend of CGI and footage shot in a 750,000-gallon water tank. Music fans will welcome the scene-stealing appearance of veteran singer Bonnie Bramlett as the owner of a jazz/blues club near the training base, where "The Guardian" serves up yet another staple of its genre: the barroom brawl. Although Hurricane Katrina prevented "The Guardian" from being filmed in New Orleans in 2005, real-life footage during the closing credits makes it clear that the Coast Guard was essential in Katrina's aftermath, and this rousing drama pays overdue tribute to those who risk there lives (to quote the Coast Guard's motto) "so that others may live." "--Jeff Shannon"

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