hollywood hues
Ode to US Coast Guards
Although The Guardian should please Kevin Kostner fans, its inordinate length works 
against it, writes Ervell E. Menezes

Remember that mid-1990s disaster called Waterworld where`A0Kevin Costner plays a marine in a trance in some futuristic adventures few could follow? Well, in The Guardian (not to be`A0mistaken for one of the better English dailies), he takes to the water again but this time is`A0much more pragmatic as a Coast Guard hero though the action is unduly stretched and for impact action-director Andrew Davis tries to be Bergmanesque in his treatment of the beyond.

If Hollywood has celebrated the firefighters, the NYPD and the LAPD and the Private Ryans, they seem to have left out the`A0US`A0Coast Guards. Hence this ode to the men and women of the elite group`A0of A school of rescue swimmers. Their pay may be meagre but they get a chance to save lives. And the legend in his lifetime is Ben Randall (Kevin Costner).

Into this group enters young, brash but very talented swimmer Jake Fisher (Ashton Kutcher) and he has to be broken in. By whom, other than the legend`A0himself. Calling him Goldfish and taunting him at every possible occasion, there are enough of anecdotes to establish their rapport. But as in Top Gun and other trainer films a spattering of diverse characters keeps the action going. There is also the schoolteacher (Melissa Sagemiller) who looks after the romantic interest, adroitly handled.

That Randallís wife is about to leave him is not unexpected in stressed jobs like his. The film opens with a rescue scene and it is here that director Davis is at his best. It then goes on to the training of these men and insights into their psyches and this covers too much ground. But just when the father figure and the maverick seem to see eye to eye, the show goes on because they have to glorify the legend or the guardian.`A0 It is its inordinate length that works against itself.

The agony is prolonged but when they resort to the beyond it is a bit too much with the film changing genres as it were. Like ageing hero Clint Eastwood, Kostner is learning to play his age and he is well matched by the young stud Kutcher. May be action and psychology was too much for director Andrew Davis to handle and he ends up neither here nor there. But it should please Kostner fans nonetheless as heís been out of action or some years now.





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