Movie Review by Clyde Baehr
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown
Director: Andrew Davis
Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is the best god-damn Rescue Swimmer there is, but he is past retirement age, has neglected his wife and is knocked by a personal tragedy. Rather than take time off he is sent to “A school” to train the new recruits, queue Ashton Kutcher as Jake Fischer the over confident, over achieving young stud, who is, well, over confident, over achieves and looks real good in trunks. Slowly they build a friendship stronger than the ocean tide but on the way there are unconventional teaching methods, training montages, romance for Kutcher with a local gal and life lessons for both. Kutcher struggles for acceptance and recognition from his instructor/father figure and Costner realises that he’s not as young as he used to be. This is not subversive cinema, and the story is certainly not new, but hell it’s immensely enjoyable.
The action scenes in the water are fantastic, high tension bursts that never feel out of place in the movie. They are beautifully shot, spectacular, yet avoid pushing the heroics too far. Director Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE) is smart enough not to drown a shallow story in special effects.
The chemistry between the two leads is solid. Costner is cool and confident, his most likable since ROBIN HOOD, with the camera lens focusing on every line and crack in the old sea-dogs face. And Kutcher works hard to prove his worth in his first dramatic role, slowly growing into his “TOP GUN” role, until by the films close he is Tom Cruise. Smug grin and all.
There are no clunkers, only the odd annoyance. Kutcher’s back story is obvious and contrived but it’s dealt with quickly and soon forgotten allowing the movie to get on with what it does best, big brave balls-out action and butch bear-hug buddyship.
It is a shame though that after so much fun THE GUARDIAN seems fit to challenge Spielberg’s A.I. for the most endings in a film, missing its ideal ending and offering steadily worse, saccharine ones until you feel a little bit sick. Just make sure you leave the theatre before Bryan Adams end-credit power ballad “Never Let Go” that is one part “Everything I Do” one part TEAM AMERICA’s “FuckYeah” but without the irony – “Ya gotta take every chance to, show that you’re the kinda man who, will never look back, will never look down and never let go.” Grrr.
Andrew Davis has made it clear he doesn’t want this to be seen as TOP GUN-in-water. But it is. And that’s not a bad thing.