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Kevin Costner as Ben Randall
Ashton Kutcher as Jake Fischer
Sela Ward as Helen Randall
Melissa Sagemiller as Emily Thomas
Clancy Brown as Capt. William Hadley
Omari Hardwick as Carl Billings
Alex Daniels as Wild Bill
Adam Peña as Benjamin Reyes
Joe Arquette as Co-Pilot Antunez
Neal McDonough as Jack Skinner
Never-Before-Seen Alternate Ending -- With On-Camera Introduction by Director Andrew Davis
Audio Commentary With Director Andrew Davis and Writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff
"Making Waves" -- The Making of The Guardian
"Unsung Heroes" -- Tribute to the Real-Life Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 139 Minutes
The following is from the official DVD synopsis:
"Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher star in 'The Guardian,' the powerful, action-packed drama that takes you inside the never-before-seen world of the elite Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. Reeling with grief in the wake of a mission gone tragically wrong, legendary Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall (Costner) is given a mission he doesn't want — training raw recruits. Once there, he knocks heads with cocky Jake Fischer (Kutcher), a swimming champ driven by a painful secret, who's more interested in breaking Ben's records than saving lives. But Ben also sees Jake has what it takes to be the best of the best. Filled with spectacular rescues in the lethal waters of the Bering Sea, 'The Guardian' is a riveting and compelling story that dives straight into the heart and soul of real heroes, the unsung guardians of the sea."
"The Guardian" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language, and some sensuality.
"The Guardian" kind of fits into the genre of military movies. It shows brave men and women going through tough training, nearly failing, then rising to the occasion to save the day. The only difference is that rather than featuring the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines, it features the Coast Guard. And there's no doubt about it – the Coast Guard deserves the recognition. In my day job, I frequently go offshore. I certainly appreciate the risk they take in helping people. I think Hollywood has generally overlooked them, too. But "The Guardian" is pretty much by-the-book and quite predictable. Within the first 15 minutes you can probably guess the entire plot of the film. And since this movie runs well over 2 hours, it becomes quite tedious.
Despite the predictable nature of "The Guardian," it's a pretty good looking production. The special effects are quite impressive and they recreate storms in the Bearing Sea very convincingly. And though I don't have any feelings for or against Costner and Kutcher, I thought they did a good job of making convincing Coast Guard swimmers. They got to play to their strengths, too. Costner got to play the tortured soul who's also an everyman. Kutcher got to play the cocky / funny young guy. Fans of Sela Ward will be disappointed to know she's barely used in the film.
If you like films about real-life heroes then this movie is for you. Fans of Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher should also be pleased. But you have been warned – it is long and it is predictable.
There is a relatively modest selection of bonus features. You'll find your standard commentary with the director and the writer. There's also a 'making of' video that's interesting. It shows the cast training as Coast Guard swimmers and their wave tank being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. There's an alternate, feel-good ending that's quite different from the theatrical version. A few deleted scenes are also included. They aren't terribly noteworthy, but a couple of them establish more animosity between Costner's character and Neal McDonough as Jack Skinner. I'm sure the Coast Guard didn't want it to look like their instructors were mean spirited. Finally, "Unsung Heroes" is a featurette highlighting real-life Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. It's extremely brief, but there's some cool footage and interviews here.