Well, this was a typical disaster film that somehow I missed on the first round. I LOVE disaster movies, and thrillers, of which Guardian managed to tick on both boxes. The problem here is that it wasn’t much of a film, being both derivative and predictable. The lead actors seemed to sensed this, apparently, since they pulled a performance that seemingly was all about the paycheck.
I see a lot of thrillers and usually love them. This makes me a harsher critic than some: for example, watching this with my mother, she thought Guardian was the BOMB. Me, I thought: meh. Seen it before, many times. It was basically Top Gun on the ocean. The bar pickup scene, the bucking of authority figures, the sad ‘father’ backstory of the lead (Ashton Kutcher), and the climax of the Maverick character saving the day…seen that, done that. Kutcher even had a young Tom Cruise flavor. So…yeah, wasn’t hugely impressed. And Kevin Costner basically reprised his reluctant mentor role from Bull Durham. Top Gun and Bull Durham are great flicks, but I’m not sure we needed to see this story again.
Whatever. Costner is aging and looks it, but did a nice job as the troubled, yet tough as nails instructor. I honestly hope it’s not that difficult to make it in the US Coast Guard, but what do I know? The boot camp scenes made it look pretty awful. When you’ve seen other films about boot camp stress, like Stripes and Private Benjamin, I have to wonder what things are really like for the grunts in the military.
Costner basically pulled an “Armageddon” role, so it’s up to you whether this film is your cup of tea. What I did enjoy were the bookend scenes of the Coast Guard rescues in the Bering Straits. I’d have given this a much higher grade if it was all about the sea rescues, and not the typical rebellious garbage at the Coast Guard Academy.
My real hope is that after this film , the Coast Guard got a lot more recruits. (Jurassic Park saw a lot of young folks learning to be Paleontologists after that film, for example.)
So, is the role of Fischer basically Maverick? Yeah, mostly. We see a lot of things we’ve seen before: teacher abuses student and bonds with him, student flirts with a hard to get girl in a bar with a dorky line, and a rescue scene proving the metal of the fresh young buck.
I’d like to have skipped the boot camp stuff, personally. The sea rescues were exciting and the best part of the film, leaving me thinking we could have skipped the origin story of Fisher and had more insights into Coast Guard life. The sea cave climax was really cool. The Bering Straights scenes were fascinatingly dangerous. It was hard to follow some of it during the chaos, but I think that was intentional.
The best and most resonant part of the film was the about the Legend of the “Guardian” that helps drowning sailors. This part of the film alone elevated the movie from pedestrian to worthwhile. So pay attention to that when you watch the film.
To Sum: the flick is derivative and a bit boring in the middle stretch. I’d suggest streaming this and kicking back for a mostly middling, yet sometimes exciting film.
Movie Grade: B-
Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.